Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Stars: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves
Release Date: May 13, 2013 (Cannes Film Festival) / April 25, 2014 (United States)
When you embark upon Blue Ruin you will be privy to one of the most thought-out revenge thrillers in years. It's amusing, it's gruesome, most importantly, it's truthful.
Blue Ruin begins with a man taking a bath in the middle of the day. He hears someone pulling into the driveway and he stops. He goes out through the window and we realize he was the intruder in this domestic space. We watch this unkept vagrant living out his daily routine, which concludes with him sleeping in the backseat of a faded sedan. Meet Dwight. A police officer knocks on his window the next morning and brings him down to the station. There Dwight is informed that the man suspected of murdering his parents is about to be released from prison. Dwight leaves the station and sets out to seek his revenge.
Macon Blair is a breath of fresh air as Dwight simply because he is so unlike the typical leading men we watch in revenge thrillers. His ragged appearance at the beginning of the film is the most intimidating quality he has, but after another memorable bathroom scene where he shaves it all away he looks like an absolute everyman. Dwight is not a trained or professional killer by any stretch of the imagination. His plans go horribly awry, his "Plan B" improvisations are cringe-worthy and any reached results are never clean.
In one telling scene Dwight is attempting to patch up his own wound after a suburban skirmish, something we've seen other brainy and brawny protagonists do, he makes a mess of things and wakes up to find himself in a hospital bed. Blue Ruin runs off this realism and as a result excels at creating an intense and rather comical thriller. Not since the criminally underrated Don McKay have I seen a film you could have told me the Coen Brothers wrote and directed and I would have believed you.
There are moments of unexpected yet earned violence in this picture, they leave a lasting effect. Revenge is not a pretty thing and I champion any film that chooses to face that head on. Blue Ruin's dialogue comes in the same manner as its action, candidly, sidestepping all the usual exposition and explanations. As Dwight ultimately invades one particularly homestead, inevitably building to a climax, we witness something rare: He flips through the family photo album of the man he is planning to kill. Everyone who wants to take another's life should have to do that. For all its liberties and well-whittled tendencies, Blue Ruin is one of the best American films of the year.