Review By: Cole Clay
Screened in The Director’s Fortnight at last year’s Canne Film Festival, Jeremy Saulnier’s “Blue Ruin” fell completely under the radar, (for me at least) until it’s quiet indie release came crawling out of a very strong Spring 2014. Somehow that seems quite appropriate for this icy tale of revenge.
Violent, isolated and dejectedly humorous “Blue Ruin” offers a look at a misguided loner played by the marginalized star Macon Blair. He is a bearded vagrant named Dwight on his last leg of resources sleeping in a disheveled ol’ hooptie of a car. The laconic vagrant dumpster dives for his dinner and kicks back under the dock. He doesn’t seem to mind this simple lifestyle, until his world falls into a black whole when he is informed that the man who murdered his parents twenty years prior is being released on a plea bargain. Disoriented and wide eyed Dwight hits the road out for blood.
Saulnier recognizes that film goers want to be moved, not manipulated with their sentiments. With a minimalist approach to character development he allows his cast which is predominantly Dwight to build a relationship with the audience through the subtle gaze of his furry face and puppy dog eyes. “Blue Ruin” has a ferocious narrative momentum that is as relentless as it is subtle. As the story unfolds before our eyes we learn that things may not be as black and white as once thought and Blair embodies this with pin point precision by encapsulating all the virtues of an anti-hero. He is stoic, determined,ruthless and every bit as engrossing as any leading man to hit the screen this year.
Devin Ratray,is not-so iconically known for his role as Buzz in “Home Alone” makes his second indie appearance in a year, (the first playing the doofus cousin of Will Forte in the Oscar-darling “Nebraska”) in a standout role as an old friend of Dwight’s who more than willing to share his gun stockpile. The graphic shocks of carnage blended with a sardonic bit of humor throughout the film feels oddly cathartic. The remnants of indie filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch and The Coen brothers are riddled throughout Saulnier’s canvas. This film feels original while being an ode to the pioneers who paved the way.
Not unlike many Americans, this flick gets caught up with the deadly bloodstains as it is disgusted by it, and Saulnier who appears to have put a whole lot of effort into how his subjects are wounded seems to be of both sides of the coin. “Blue Ruin” veers away from being a cheesy Liam Neeson punch fest without relying too much on it’s high-concept revenge conceit.
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