January 24, 1994 12:00 PM

Madeleine Stowe, Aidan Quinn

Stowe, a professional violinist who has been blind since childhood, regains partial sight after a cornea transplant. Soon afterward she glimpses a serial murderer fleeing his crime, then becomes romantically involved with Quinn, the police detective who’s trying to solve the case. The story may sound like the standard issue disabled-woman-in-distress, the staple of numerous movies (notably Wail Unlit Dark), but Blink succeeds because it offers flinty characters we haven’t seen before, surprising plot twists, credible suspense and gritty dialogue (“Nail him. Don’t let ’em write a book about this guy,” Quinn’s boss says of the murderer). An added plus: The affair between its two leads proceeds in an unsmooth but sexy fashion.

Michael Apted directs with a sure hand, keeping the movie hurtling along with the speed of the Chicago L (one of whose trains is featured in a pivotal chase scene). Stowe tackles her part with gusto. Quinn comes into his own here as a romantic leading man, nicely mixing bluster with sardonic charm. Although it never quite transcends its genre limitations, Blink is a sleeper that deserves to be seen. (R)

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