JENNIFER EIGHT, with Andy Garcia, Lance Henriksen, Uma Thurman and John Malkovich. Directed by Bruce Robinson. On Panasia circuit. WITH Jennifer Eight, director-writer Bruce Robinson has transformed a naturalistic script into a highly suspenseful film, which is nothing short of remarkable for a man making his American directorial debut. However, Robinson is far from a beginner. He was previously responsible for the award-winning screenplay of The Killing Fields and made his directorial debut away from the US with the excellent Withnail and I. Perhaps the ease with which he has slotted into directing this big-budget production is simply the result of applying skills honed on more exacting projects. Jennifer Eight stars highly bankable talent, and in stark contrast to the world of Withnail, is almost entirely without humour. Andy Garcia, one of Hollywood's most under-rated actors, takes the lead role as Sergeant John Berlin, a frazzled Los Angeles cop who has decided to take up a position in a small northern California town in order to try to save his sanity. As e ver, Garcia brings an intensity and naturalism to the role that can only be matched by the likes of Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. Berlin is uptight and his passions are easily aroused. He is an ex-alcoholic, recovering from being abandoned by his wife. Obsessive, depressive and without any real goal, he becomes overly involved in an investigation into a disembodied hand found on a local dump. The hand's finger tips are heavily scarred, indicating a lifetime spent reading braille. Berlin, despite the scepticism of his fellow officers, follows up the find and uncovers information which leads him to believe he is on the trail of a serial killer who murders blind women. His investigation takes him to a college for the blind, where he meets and falls in love with Helena Robertson (Uma Thurman), a beautiful woman who quickly becomes the murderer's next victim when the press reveals she is involved in the investigation. But Jennifer Eight is far more than a psycho-killer thriller, it is also a well-researched and sensitive examination of the relationship between the blind and the sighted; an intelligent look at the fear and paranoia in small-town America; and a highly realistic critique of the role of FBI interrogators. Try not to miss it.