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MOVIE REVIEW : Tangled Scenario Turns Thriller 'Blink' into a Blur

January 26, 1994|PETER RAINER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The scenario for "Blink" (citywide) is so convoluted that even Hitchcock might have gotten tangled up in it.

Emma Brody (Madeleine Stowe) is a country-rock musician, a violinist, who lost her sight as a child when her mother rammed her head into a mirror. A corneal transplant operation has restored Emma's sight--sort of. She sees things as a blur and, in some cases, she retains images that only become clear a day or two later. (Her optometrist calls this phenomenon "ocular flashback.") When she responds to a scuffle in her apartment one night, the next day offers up the image of the murderer.

But will the cops believe her as an eyewitness?

Full of severe shadows and jagged shock effects, "Blink" is compelling without being very pleasurable. It has an acrid, cruel undercurrent that disguises an essential hollowness. (The Faye Dunaway-Tommy Lee Jones shocker "Eyes of Laura Mars," which influenced "Blink," was much stronger.)

Without the visual trickeries of director Michael Apted, "Blink" might just seem like a muddled thriller. It sort of seems that way anyway, but it does have at least one thing to recommend it: Madeleine Stowe's performance.

Stowe has been cast primarily for her extraordinary beauty in films like "Revenge," "Unlawful Entry" and "The Last of the Mohicans" but, as she demonstrated in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts," she's also an extraordinary actress. The shorn lyricism of her beauty in "Blink" gives her a scary frailty; she's entirely convincing as a woman whose damaged eyes are her only way into the world. Stowe doesn't play Emma as a forlorn helpless maiden though; there's a frazzled gutsiness in the way she maneuvers against the serial killer who stalks her.

As the detective in charge of tracking down the killer, Aidan Quinn seems to be posturing for another movie altogether--a more enjoyable one. He's always fun to watch but he doesn't connect with Stowe's hyperventilating vim; their romance seems scripted rather than felt. He acts like he's prepping to star in a TV cop series. ("Columbo's Nephew," maybe?)

"Blink," which was scripted by Dana Stevens, does keep you guessing about the killer's identity. That's not intended as compliment, exactly. The guessing is just a way for us to stay in the movie. If you don't bother to sort out the clues and red herrings, what reason is there to stay put?

*

'Blink'

Madeleine Stowe: Emma Brody

Aidan Quinn: Det. John Hallstrom

Laurie Metcalf: Candice

James Remar: Det. Thomas Ridgely

A New Line Cinema release. Director Michael Apted. Producer David Blocker. Executive producer Robert Shaye. Screenplay by Dana Stevens. Cinematographer Dante Spinotti. Editor Rick Shaine. Costumes Susan Lyall. Music Brad Fiedel. Production design Dan Bishop. Art director Jefferson Sage. Set designer Amy J. Smith. Set decorator Dianna Freas. Sound Chris Newman. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes.

MPAA-rating: R, for violence and sexuality. Times guid e lines: It includes graphic sex and mayhem.

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