In films, the quest for vengeance is never a smooth one, but it is always suspenseful and engaging viewing – this is what Blue Ruin delivers. As the second feature film by the relatively unknown writer/director Jeremy Saulnier, it effectively adopts a simple yet gripping tale of revenge of violence.
Wanderer Dwight (Macon Blair) prefers to live in his car and eat scraps, effectively living off the grid. However, his seemingly aimless demeanour quickly dissipates when he finds out a prisoner – the man whom he believes killed his parents – is about to be released from prison. His quick and bloody revenge soon escalates into a vicious cycle of violence that not only endangers his life, but also the lives of his sister (Amy Hargreaves) and nieces.
Following the success stories of Veronica Mars and Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here, Saulnier was able to fund the film’s production while surpassing its original goal of $35,000. After its premiere at Cannes and its recent inclusion at Sundance London Film Festival, it has quickly garnered attention through word-of-mouth and social media.
It is a simple premise, but one that is lacking in detail. There is not much given in terms of Dwight’s backstory, not to mention the repercussions of his actions on the flip side to provide a balanced perspective. The film begins and ends with his mission and because of that, there is a finality to it that is discomforting.
However, the main strength behind Blue Ruin is its visual power, thanks to its minimal screenplay and Saulnier’s concept of ‘actions speak louder than words.’ He makes full use of his surroundings, whether it is a tree-lined field to a an empty, pitch-black house, there is an underlying feeling of suspense and anticipation.
Blair’s quiet and determined Dwight, tormented by his parents’ death, brings a vulnerability to his performance – his aimless drifter persona doesn’t click immediately but as soon as he is ‘transformed’, there is reason behind the madness and his character essentially becomes the eyes and ears of the piece.
Blue Ruin is not a truly organic story in terms of originality, but its brutal take on revenge and Blair’s mesmerising performance makes it one of the year’s best films that no-one will have heard of.|
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