Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb
Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier
Synopsis: A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.
Blue Ruin is one of those rare success stories that the film industry throws up every so often. Part self financed, part Kickstarter crowd funded, Blue Ruin puts most of it’s big budget competitors in the ‘revenge thriller’ genre to shame. And it does so by not following the usual conventions of that genre.
Macon Blair plays Dwight, a bedraggled looking guy who takes to using other people’s baths when they aren’t home, looking for food in rubbish tips and sleeping in his car (the blue ruin of the title). It becomes apparent that something bad happened in Dwight’s past when a police officer tells him that a certain inmate is due to be released soon. It turns out that Dwight is of the understanding that the inmate being released killed his parents. And he wants revenge. This leads to a pretty bloody confrontation and Dwight running for his life whilst trying to save that of his sister and her kids.
The clever thing about Blue Ruin is that the revenge plays out early on. The film is actually about what happens once you have your revenge. The notion that it all stops once you do what you need to do is nonsense. It just means some one else wants revenge. The other great strength of Blue Ruin is the fact that Macon Blair as Dwight is as ordinary as you and me, He is quiet and scared and meek. He is someone we can root for and believe in, as it is quite possible that we would do exactly the same as he in that situation. He bumbles along making mistakes as we all would if we suddenly decided we were assassins. It’s one thing telling yourself you are one, and another to actually pull the trigger.
The film reminded me of some other flicks in certain places. The most obvious would be “No Country For Old Men”, with out hero on the run. Whether it intended to or not, it pays a nice homage to the Coen’s classic when Dwight has to painfully remove an arrow head lodged in his leg, thus making your mind wander back to Javier Bardem doing likewise in the aforementioned. The other film that it reminded me of, in that at times there is barely a word spoken, and there is also some pretty visceral violence, is “Drive”.
Macon Blair is terrific Dwight. Wide eyed and scared. There are many revenge thrillers out there and usually we are supposed to believe that the likes of Gerard Butler are the average Joe family man in trouble. Then they turn all Rambo suddenly and you lose that belief straight away. The best thing Macon Blair does is keep you believing until the very end.
I can’t think of a weak point to Blue Ruin really. Maybe the film never fully lives up to it’s amazing opening twenty minutes. But that would still be a small complaint because the movie is still a triumph even after the beginning. It also looks like it is getting the publicity and press that it deserves as well, meaning hopefully we will see more of director Jeremy Saulnier and his childhood pal Macon Blair again. And maybe they won’t need Kickstarter funding next time.
You can check out my interview with Blue Ruin star Macon Blair here.
<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/87091571″>BLUE-RUIN – trailer</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user2694101″>Memento Films International</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>