Blurred summary

: info : the films : the pitches : the posters :

Release Date: February 25th
Weeks in release: 9
Days at #1: 7
Read the script

Budget: $58,550,000

directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
starring: Vince Vaughn, Nick Nolte, Jon Voight, Phillip Baker Hall, Don Cheadle, Emily Watson, Ted Levine, Natasha Wagner, Lucian

written by: Chris Shue

Won the following VP Other Awards: Best Twist Ending, Best Hero, Best Villian.
Nominated for the following VP Other Awards: Best Quote, Best Cliche, Movie Most Likely to Sell Action Figures 

10 VP Choice Awards Nominations

Best Actor in a Action, Sci-Fi, Mystery, or Horror Film - Vince Vaughn
Best Supp Act in Action, SF, Myst, or Horror Film - Philip Baker Hall, Nick Nolte, Jon Voight 
Best Supporting Actress in a Action, Sci-Fi, Mystery, or Horror Film - Natasha Wagner 
Best Director in a Action, Sci-Fi, Mystery, or Horror Film - Paul Thomas Anderson 
Action, Sci-Fi, Mystery, or Horror Film with the Best Cast
Best Mystery/Thriller Film
VP Film with the Best Website
Best VP Film

Highest grossing debut film in the history of VP.
# 2 all-time VP film for initial grosses and #3 in total grosses.
Pulled after 9 weeks in release.
2nd longest running film in VP history
Highest grossing mystery/thriller in VP history.

week fri sat sun mon tue wed thurs total
1 $ 8,462,609 10,061,333 19,400,348 18,016,990 16,591,595 13,944,000 14,563,733 101,040,068
2 $ 8,547,955 8,915,250 4,918,759 11,320,952 12,453,048 10,421,479 12,075,683 169,693,733
3 $ 8,053,333 13,746,207 14,451,332 11,944,270 10,936,626 16,680,329 9,193,190 254,699,020
4 $ 11,607,200 11,107,368 8,534,706 9,175,652 11,035,014 10,328,441 12,436,286 328,923,687
5 $ 9,481,393 8,075,254 10,137,021 8,362,829 6,099,353 7,940,667 5,430,391 384,450,595
6 $ 5,414,788 9,764,372 6,768,485 3,785,763 7,778,706 7,962,370 10,293,983  436,219,061 
7 $ 7,024,049   4,771,052   5,435,276   7,465,813   6,354,885  6,917,624  7,178,667  481,366,428  
8 $ 7,403,400  5,982,545  8,738,669   11,310,750  11,237,705   4,810,526  11,016,964  541,866,988 
9 $ 10,568,783  5,121,795  8,684,783   10,895,455  13,316,667 14,670,904 7,537,736  612,663,122 

Spoon Feedings 02/27/00
My first impression of this is that it’s very professionally presented. Writing is clean, and I dug the floating cast list. I I also think the cinematic sense in this script is great. You can really envision the camera cuts and what you would be seeing on screen. Hell, it really is a professional type job all around, for the most part. The dialogue is very well done, literary yet realistic. The dialogue makes the conspiracy theory work a lot better. "Conspiracy" films often fall flat because the author doesn’t make the conspirators into realistic characters. This one mostly avoids that trap, although it does get a little silly at times. The psychology of the main character is also well presented.

Anyway, I have to like this because it has Joe Don Baker, a.k.a. ... MITCHELL! Swain seems to be spouting similar rhetoric to Alan Keyes, and Keyes is drawing like 3% of the Republican vote so it’s a little hard to believe that Swain would be the presidential favorite in five years. At least the movie faithfully portrays Lucian’s ultra-conservative right-wing politics, heh heh heh. Based on what we’ve seen of P.T. Anderson’s films, the single-protagonist approach and the politicalness of this aren’t a fit. I suspect the short version isn’t short enough to satisfy those who want to read short versions

Leon's Line 02/27/00
A very fine debut from Suburban Films. This very nearly did not get reviewed though, however because it had failed to reach the deadline which I had set myself. As I had only reviewed two films by the time this was finally, fully released and because I had been looking forward to this I decided to show some leniency. I suppose the main issue which is being dealt with here is - becoming what you hate. The portrayal of Stevens' demise is aptly crafted, it is through the characters around him that we see this most clearly. This is a very clever approach as far as the development of this character is concerned. I also liked the fact that the Steven's character was not fighting for a cause of his own rather he was doing his job, but it is obvious he was getting release from his "directives". It is clear that a lot of thought had gone into developing this character both in the script and in the mind of the author. The story unfolds very dramatically. Each scene is well scripted and is easily visualised. 

The whole look of the project is completely professional. The ending was a complete surprise, far from what I expected, and not entirely the ending I was hoping for - the optimist in me, I guess. From the pitch I must admit that I assumed that we would be "preached at" (for want of a better phrase) by this script. I was very much mistaken. The "political" ideas were only there to develop the plot and we are left to think and believe what we like. The "conspiracy" was not dwelt on in the way that "Jim Tomb is Dead", for example, did. This though is because it is really only a side issue to the plot. Here, what matters is the fact that a character can become what he would normally fight against and when this happens why should we expect a happy ending. I can see from this debut that we can expect to see some real quality product from Suburban Films. Just a note on the music. I appreciate "Adagio for Strings" by Barber. When I have a choice in my job it is often a piece that I will play. To have it playing all the way through the film seems a bit excessive though. I have read a number of reviewers and there have been comments on TPL lately slamming the use of image and sound files in virtual films. The purist approach to script presentation is not something I go along with. One reviewer said something along the lines of "this shows a lack of writing skills - when an image is used instead of words". But "a picture paints a thousand words". If you take a look at how the Stars are awarded for these reviews you will notice that the extra effort of music, images and other extras is rewarded. I for one appreciate the effort that goes into creating something like "Last Temptation of Beth", for example, it is puerile just to dismiss this as an excuse for the author to scan the net looking for adult images. The format we are using to deliver our products is opening up to new innovations all the time and I am very pleased to see this being exploited and continue to encourage it. But when it is used I also appreciate a little variation.

(normal text is the review and bold is my response)

First of all, let me thank you for taking the time to read and review what is my very first VP film. A lot of hard work went into it, and I sincerely appreciate the feedback. I enjoy the opportunity to respond to reasoned critiques of anything I write, and I appreciate a review column that doesn’t “dumb-down” its opinions. Fair warning to readers: while I don’t give away the ending or any plot twists, I allude to several specifics that might prematurely give away some plot twists as you read the movie.

Eight years ago, Michael Stevens(Vaughn) witnessed the bombing of an abortion clinic where his fiancee worked and was killed. Now he works for the FBI, is married to his fiancée’s best friend(Watson), but is still haunted by the explosion. Consequently, when his supervisor(Hall) gives him the opportunity to hunt down right-wing terrorists, Stevens jumps at the chance. Four deaths later, the real plan and the final target are revealed.

Nice synopsis. It does a nice job of explaining the linear story line, although it does not touch on the underlying plot elements, which I feel are so important to the film. Mainly, there is a serious conspiracy taking place throughout the film, involving the reader before it does the protagonist.

Blurred is a film that gets a group of people squarely in its sights and attacks them fiercely. This group is, obviously, right-wing extremists. There is no doubt that these type of people exist and that they are “bad”.

I have been asked why I chose to focus on militant right-wing extremists for my film. In my opinion, they are last great un-mined vein of villainy that is available to story-tellers. I guess what I wanted to do and probably failed to do, is paint ALL militant extremists as bad, regardless of their politics. I mostly tried to touch on right-wing militant “themes” in this film, because as you will find out, there really aren’t any right-wing militant extremists in the film at all. Sure there are conservative/reactionary characters, but the right-wing terrorist bit is mostly a decoy used by Cliff Howard (Phillip Baker Hall).

However, Blurred portrayal of them is weak mostly because the film paints them is pure evil. Swain especially is a very
one-dimensional character that could not possible be real. Everything he does is manipulative and evil. An important character, even villains, need to be portrayed realistically. The viewer should have the chance to decide what to think about a character but Blurred does not allow this as it paints Swain as wholly evil and tells the viewer what to think about him.

I agree with you completely here. Swain is completely over the top. I probably should have cut the scene where he was with that hooker, but I decided I would leave it on, because Swain wouldn’t be the first character, in fiction or real-life, whose sexual appetite got the best of him. I disagree about your assertion that he could not be real, though, because there have been countless political and religious leaders that turned out to be truly horrible human beings when it was all said and done. The weakest point of the film though, in my opinion, is that Swain is such a viable political presidential candidate. This country would never let someone like this even sniff the White House. For that reason, I set the story in 2003,
hoping the reader would think that the political climate had changed. Swain is an almagm of all of those phonies I hate : Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggert * all big money fundamentalists with little tolerance for anything out of the realm of acceptable Christian behavior.

Another problem I have with the characters of Blurred is that the development of Stevens is not very well done or complete. He does not gradually change but instead makes radical jumps from cold-blooded killer to reluctant pawn.

Again I agree. This was a difficult plot element to pull off. I think if I had 90 pages instead of 45, I would have had more opportunity to flesh out Stevens’ transition. In spite of that, I tried to emphasize his mental state through the several dream sequences that I included. If I had to go back and write it all over again (yeah, right), I think I would take more time with Stevens, maybe do some voice overs, ala “The Thin Red Line”, really try to get the audience into his head.

All the above being said, Blurred does have some good qualities. The plot, while not very original, does flow nicely though
there are some weird jumps of time in the film. Also, the plot twists, again not wholly original, are logical and flow
naturally from the previous events of the film. I saw the ending coming but it was still an appropriate conclusion to
the events of the film. I must also say that the plot began rather slowly but did pick up in the latter part of the film.

Thanks, I appreciate that. I would like to point out that I went out of my way to try and make this movie fairly original. While it is probably derivative in some respects, I would like to think it doesn’t pander to the audience, but instead keeps them thinking. I think the plot starts slowly as well. I was actually trying to do a little character development while setting up the story, although I might not have done such a hot job.

Blurred is not a very happy film. Nearly everyone in the film has major problems or is a somewhat evil person. I could not
find any characters to sympathize with not even Stevens. This is very reminiscient of old time film noir and
creates an atmosphere that is definitely not uplifting.

Blurred is not happy, that is for sure. I wanted to stay away from the Hollywood-style endings with this one, and I think I achieved this. In my opinion, there was one sympathetic character and that was Janice, Michael Stevens’ wife (played by Emily Watson). She is a strong character whose only flaw is that she is deeply in love with an emotionally crippled man.

In conclusion, Blurred is a film that showed lots of promise but only delivered on some of it. Its over the top characters
prevent the film from creating a realistic world. Without a realistic seeming world, it is hard for a film to present its message to the viewer. Therefore, Blurred is unable to become more than decent thriller.

Of course, my heart sank when I read this part of your review. It’s so hard, after putting so much work into a film, hearing someone say no more than decent. I don’t fault you for it, because you are the reviewer and this is your job and I am interested in this type of constructive feedback. At the same time, everyone wants his creative works to gain critical acceptance and when it doesn’t, it is a huge downer. This is why I gave up reviewing, not because there is anything wrong with it, but I just didn’t have the heart to tell producers that I didn’t think much of their films. On the flip side, we NEED people who can do that, so I’ll stop crying now and thank you for giving me the opportunity to take part in this review. Take care and good luck with your next film.


All story ideas and design © Chris Shue, 2000. All Rights Reserved.