Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Stars: Macon Blair
Year Released: 2014
Running Time: 90 Minutes
This review isn’t crazy it’s just got spoilers
How far does a man have to go before he can say that justice has been done? The fascinating new revenge thriller “Blue Ruin” asks that and many other questions as it gives us a new spin on one of the oldest stories, the story of a man seeking revenge. The man in question is Dwight Evens (Macon Blair) who appears at first to be another lost and broken homeless man, who lives out of his car on the beach. This all changes when a local police officer informs him that Wade Cleland Jr. (Sandy Barnett) has just been released from jail. At that moment a terrible change comes over Dwight, he packs up his battered blue car (one of the possible meanings of the title) and goes to kill Wade Cleland. After a failed search for a gun, Dwight decides to just ambush Wade at his release party with nothing more than a pocket knife. Then in a twist that separates “Blue Ruin” from most revenge movies, Dwight actually kills Wade. This would be the finale of most movies, but in “Blue Ruin” it’s only the beginning, as new facts come to light and the lives of Dwight and everyone he knows spiral out of control.
“Blue Ruin” is subtly different from its first frame. Not only does it not have any opening credits but it also throws the audience into Dwight’s hobo life without any explanation of who he is. Most of the film is like that, instead of explaining things; it relies on the audience to figure things out for themselves. Some people might get confused by this, but I could follow it and I think anyone who pays attention won’t have any trouble
What’s also different is the subtle tweaks “Blue Ruin” puts on the typical revenge story. Most revenge movies go like this: main character guy’s Family/Friend’s/Second cousin twice removed gets killed/raped/kidnapped and the killers avoid punishment so main character guy must now use/learn badass commando ninja skills in order to f#$% up the lives of the poor dumb basta#$% who messed with his loved ones. These usually star someone who looks like a badass so it won’t be too much of a stretch when he slaughters a dozen people. Take the “Death Wish” the granddaddy of revenge films for example. The main character in that movie is supposed to be a simple architect, but because he’s played by Charles Bronson, the jump from grieving family man to ruthless vigilante is easy for the audience to accept because Charles Bronson could look like a badass even if he did the whole movie in a dress.
“Blue Ruin” takes every critical part of the revenge move and warps it. Dwight’s family has been hurt but the killer was caught and punished. While Dwight does go on a rampage of revenge, he begins and ends it as nothing more than an especially clever homeless guy without any combat skills. Most important is how Dwight looks. In the begging of “Blue Ruin” despite sporting tattoos and an impressive beard, Dwight never looks tough; he just looks sad, lost and confused. Then after he cleans himself up he looks like a suburban wimp who couldn’t be less threatening if he tried. All these factors help create one of the rarest things in a film, realism. I actually found myself being believing “Blue Ruin’s” story and for a guy who’s seen as many movies as me, that’s a rare occurrence.
Fortunately, “Blue Ruin” doesn’t only need to rely on just its story. The acting is good overall, but the special focus should be given to Macon Blair who manages to communicate Dwight’s broken spirit from his first scene to his last. “Blue Ruin” is shot very well and it’s clear that the cinematographer knows how to frame a shot right and present a long take without overdoing it, sadly this is a skill that’s vanishing in modern films. While “Blue Ruin” isn’t an action movie when the bloodshed does start it’s quick, brutal and fit’s the movie’s tone perfectly. “Blue Ruin” is a rare thing, a movie that provides a new spin on a classic genre without being obvious about it. That alone is a good reason to see it, but even without that “Blue Ruin” is tense tragic and very engrossing.
Did I like the movie: Yes
Would I watch it again: Yes
Would I buy it: Yes
Put a new twist on an old joke: A man goes to see a Psychiatrist. He tells the Psychiatrist that he’s overwhelmed with life and he doesn’t know how long before it will be before he hurts someone he knows. The Psychiatrist tells the man “you should go see Pagliacci the clown, he’ll cheer you up.” The man starts to look very embarrassed and the Psychiatrist asks him what’s wrong. The man says “well I’m really starting to regret strangling that clown I met on the way over here.”