A dish best served cold.
There’s an appealing simplicity to Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin, a film that compellingly argues the power of restraint and thoughtful execution in film. Twists and clever plot progressions are an important and welcome element of a lot of films, but there’s nothing quite like the possibilities of pure cinema – the possibility to create something from nothing somewhere amidst the indefinable space between image, sound and literature. Admittedly, Blue Ruin does have a narrative that lends itself naturally to tension, but the real excitement lies in Saulnier’s ability to exploit silence.
Dwight Evans (Macon Blair) is a mysterious drifter who sleeps in a rundown, bullet-riddled car, eats from the garbage of a carnival and breaks into suburban houses to bath. Evans is awoken by a familiar policewoman, who informs him that Wade Cleland, the man who murdered his parents almost twenty years ago, has been released from prison. Evans resolves to find Cleland and kill him, but his reckless actions begins to affect a life and a family from which he has long been estranged.
The escalating misunderstanding and poor choices that Saulnier’s film revels in is almost reminiscent of the gritty crime that occupies some of the best work of The Coen Brothers. Thoughtless crime and its bloody consequence has been a dominant factor in Coen Brothers films as far back as 1984’s Blood Simple. From the outset it’s apparent that a constructive outcome isn’t in the realm of possibility for Evans. Blue Ruin is a revenge tale, but Evans isn’t cut from the same mould as Charlie Bronson or Uma Thurman. He’s stronger than his demeanour suggests, but it’s his weakness that Evans’ enemies perceive and manipulate. Evans has an off-kilter manner that contributes to the uneasy atmosphere, but Blair shrewdly never portrays the man as overtly crazy.
Blue Ruin is one of the first triumphs of crowd-funding cinema, a reasonably recent phenomenon. While Zach Braff was receiving millions of dollars for his upcoming Wish You Were Here, Saulnier met his modest $38,000 goal with little humdrum and set about making his second feature film. Like too many films however, Blue Ruin lags towards its finale, suffocating under the common dilemma of not being able to match an outcome with an exceptional premise.
DVD Extras: None
Blue Ruin is currently available on DVD from Madman Entertainment. For more Reviews, click here. If you’re digging ReelGood, sign up to our mailing list for exclusive content, early reviews and chances to win big!