Critics have been raving about Blue Ruin and for good reason; director Jeremy Saulnier (Murder Party) takes a simple tale of revenge and elevates it to Shakespearean heights with his masterful storytelling. Macon Blair has a career-making performance as Dwight, an outcast living on the fringe of society who’s drawn back to his hometown at the chance of vengeance.
Dwight is a man of few words and the movie reflects that. There is barely any dialogue in the first quarter of the film. The music is foreboding and it does a nice job of setting the tone. Saulnier’s direction recalls the Coen Brothers’ work in No Country For Old Men and Blood Simple. He lets the story tell itself and doesn’t muck it up with unnecessary details and excess characters. No overly fancy camerawork or crazy editing, instead he places the audience front and center to witness a tragedy of errors that feels personal, and is both humorous and devastating.
Macon Blair carries the film. Consumed with concealed emotion, Dwight fails to plan wisely and his amateur ways put his estranged family at risk. Devin Ratray (Buzz from Home Alone) is a welcome addition to the cast and helps lighten the mood as a former school pal that has experience with violent situations.
This revenge flick is also a rumination on survival and is wrought with suspense. The segments without dialogue allow it to build up a sense of unease. There are sudden bursts of grotesque violence that are jarring and feel real. It’s a movie that I probably won’t go back to often, but the images will stick with me like the tip of a knife that broke off during my initial viewing.
Blue Ruin is haunting and powerful. Jeremy Saulnier and Macon Blair weren’t previously on my radar, but I’ll be checking out their previous collaboration Murder Party, and looking forward to future projects from both.
I give this film 4.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.
Essential Viewing: No Country For Old Men, Blood Simple, Straw Dogs, Winter’s Bone, Animal Kingdom, A Simple Plan
Check out the trailer below:
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