In Case You Missed It: Blink (1994)
Madeleine Stowe is drop dead gorgeous. There, I said it. But in addition to her timeless beauty, what makes her a truly captivating screen presence is the way that she radiates intelligence with a non-stop BS detector. From Stakeout to Short Cuts to 12 Monkeys to The General’s Daughter, Stowe is always a commanding performer and rarely plays anything resembling a damsel in distress.
1994’s Blink finds Stowe in one of her best roles, as a previously blind violinist who gains her sight back via corneal transplant. Her re-adjustment period includes “retroactive hallucination” whereby she cannot recognize new sights until a day later. And to make matters even more challenging she becomes the target of a serial killer. It does sound potentially lame-brained, but Stowe brings humor and gravitas to the role and Dana Stevens script is surprisingly taut.
We also get the welcome sight of Aidan Quinn as the detective assigned to work the case. Quinn and Stowe have vivid chemistry, hard to believe they were antagonists in Stakeout. In an incredibly goofy opening scene, we watch an off-duty Quinn try to impress his cop buddies by dancing and stripping to get Stowe’s attention – not realizing that she is blind. There’s also a charming scene when Quinn encounters a noisy teen during the “male version” of the Walk of Shame.
Director Michael Apted (best known for the Up series, Coal Miner’s Daughter and Gorky Park) has a definitive feel for these characters and the Chicago work that they inhabit. The film has a Hitchcockian feel with Stowe finding a way to project strength while not being able to believe her own eyes, and still inspiring a modicum of disbelief from those around her. Cinematographer Dante Spinotti and visual effects supervisor Art Durinski provide plenty of style and interesting choices in showing us how Stowe “sees.”
The film has a number of red herrings, including James Remar (best known for 48 Hrs and a slew of bad bad guy roles) as Quinn’s partner, but there is no easy way to guess the killer’s identity. Thankfully, this is the kind of thriller where Stowe gets the closure of facing off with her nemesis all by herself. Blink is smart enough to give us a strong female character and not feel they need for to be saved; she is strong enough to save herself. After all, she is played by Madeleine Stowe.