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Complex storylines bungled in Blink broth

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@Eventdesc:Directed by Michael Apted.

Starring Madeleine Stowe and Aidan Quinn.

@ByName:J. Michael Andresen

@ByTitle:Arts Editor

@Dropcap:Just as too many cooks can spoil a broth, so can too many subplots ruin a movie. Blink tries to deliver a heartwarming tale about a woman struggling to rediscover herself, a passionate love story, and a gripping murder mystery plot all at the same time. Unfortunately, it fails on all three counts on what is an intriguing, if unnecessarily complex, story line.

@Body:Madeleine Stowe is Emma, a violinist for the alternative band The Drovers, who was blinded in childhood by an abusive mother. She regains her sight following eye surgery. Though her vision remains very blurred, she sometimes gets a clear flashback of something she had actually seen the day before. It is in this sort of flashback that Emma witnesses a serial killer escaping the scene of a murder.

She goes to the police, but they dont believe her because she is still mostly blind. When Detective John Hallstrom (Aidan Quinn) is assigned to the case, however, he has no choice but to believe that she actually did see the murderer. He struggles throughout the movie to protect Emma from the murderer, who knows he was seen, and to find this man before he strikes again.

If this was the only plot, then the film might have worked. As it is, the two subplots hamper the execution of the murder mystery. Emmas struggle to deal with self-image problems that go along with regaining her sight is given some attention at the beginning of the movie, but is not mentioned again. A female reporter does a feature on Emmas story, and during the interview Emma keeps looking from the reporter to her own body. Having no concept of what constitutes beauty, Emma asks the reporter, Are you pretty? Unfortunately this self-examination never reaches a conclusion.

Emma also works through feelings she has for the mother who blinded her as a child of five by smashing her face into a mirror. While this makes way for some frightening hallucinations, it is neither very well introduced nor dealt with in any way. It is merely presented as an added detail.

The love story is also inadequately developed. It starts out as a triangle of sorts between Emma, John, and Emmas ophthalmologist. John wins out easily, though, and we never really learn why. They go out for coffee once and the next day end up in bed together, madly in love. There is almost no development whatsoever.

We plod through these subplots to finally reach the climax of the mystery, which was also disappointing. Good mysteries are made by good criminals, and the bad guy here was anything but that. His motive for the serial killings was interesting, but he himself was rather insane. Somehow, mysteries are more satisfying when there is an evil and devious criminal masterminding the whole affair. Giving the honors to an idiot diminishes this satisfaction and makes one wonder how he could have gotten away with everything so easily.

Blink does have its moments, though. It gives an introspective look into what it is like to be blind. When Emma first gets back to her apartment after regaining her sight, she stumbles up the staircase that she probably successfully navigated hundreds of times while completely blind. When she gets back to her room, she turns the television on, only to find a fuzzy screen of snow: she had been able to listen to the television before, unaware of the lack of picture. One particularly interesting insight is made when a friend inquires about what its like to have sex when blind.

The technical aspects of this movie are impeccable. The scene when Emma first opens her newly restored eyes is amazing. The sequence from total blackness to a dizzying array of lights and images is terrifying, much like it might be to someone regaining sight for the first time after 20 years. The few shots of the eye surgery itself were fascinating as well. Throughout the film, Emma experiences mutating hallucinations/flashbacks that come off effectively on the screen.

The music by The Drovers (an actual band, apparently) was also quite nice. The group was appropriately showcased as they performed almost all of the music for the film.