By Owen Gleiberman
January 28, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST
  • Movie

We’ve all seen this trick done to death-and we all keep falling for it. A lone woman stands in a dark room. Silently, she peers around, mindful of some creeping danger. Is there a killer in the shadows? Of course there is (though he had no way of getting there). And will he jump out and scare us, our fear and shock triggered by a pseudo-Psycho musical blast? Of course he will. (Those nightmare violins on the soundtrack provoke a collective shudder as surely as a hammer stroke to the knee makes your leg jump.) Nevertheless, in the entertaining potboiler BLINK (New Line, R), director Michael Apted (Gorillas in the Mist) actually finds a way to make this ancient device seem fresh. Emma Brody (Madeleine Stowe), you see, has been blind since she was 8 years old. Now she has received a cornea transplant and regained her sight-sort of. Apted’s camera shows us the world from Emma’s point of view, and it’s a blurry, melting vortex of double visions and tilted Cubist angles. She also has a ”perceptual delay”: Something she saw yesterday-for example, a killer’s face emerging from the shadows-may not register until today, when it suddenly pops into her vision. The fun of Blink, a canned thriller with genuinely scary moments, is that it’s not just the movie that’s playing these same old dumb tricks on us. It’s Emma’s trippy perceptions. Apted surrounds his heroine with a standard hodgepodge of suspense cliches (serial killer, creaky old apartment, slovenly renegade cop). By now, too many actresses have foundered in these blind-woman-in-peril roles (most recently, Uma Thurman in Jennifer 8), emerging as limp, passive scream queens. But Madeleine Stowe, the most beautiful woman in American movies, never lets herself go too soft. Here, as in Short Cuts, Stowe has perfected a look of teasing, flirtatious knowingness-a kind of skeptical feminine savvy. She makes Emma a smart, sexy scrapper and nobody’s victim. As her protector-lover, Aidan Quinn, doing a cornball impression of a hard-boiled Chicago cop, is rather sweet, and he and Stowe spark each other. It’s not every romantic duo who could carry on a fistfight in the police-station bathroom and still convince you they’re madly in love. B-

  • Movie
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