Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Macon Blair, Tyler Byrne, Richard Peete, Vincent Savino, Alex Orr, Anish Savjani. USA.1h 30m
I thought I had seen it all when Oldboy (2003) picked at my psyche with it’s dark narrative and astonishing ending that I had to watch twice to absorb. So much pent up hate and such brutal actions in the name of honour and revenge. Blue Ruin is a testament that keeping things smart and stripped down a clever director can produce a well told revenge story that is bound the thrill.
With meager beginnings, the film starts silently as a homeless vagabond, Dwight Evans (Blair) moves around with his daily chores, living rough but seemly content with life he meanders around without a care in the world. Eventually he’s picked up by the police and the first real words are hazily spoken, they wanted to pick him up to let him know that Wade Cleland is going to be released from prison. confused and stunned he leaves the police station and jumps into action, fixing up his car, grabbing newspapers he head to the prison to see the release of this mysterious man. It becomes evident that he’s been waiting for this moment, but when faced with the task things start falling apart. He follows Wade into the toilets of a bar, attempts to stab him but he fights back, they struggle but Wade eventually dies, panicked he makes a break for his car, stabbing the tired of the his victims limo, his shiv cuts him deeply in the hand, so he hobbles back to the car, realising that he left the keys with the corpse and hearing cries coming from the bar he breaks into the limo, find the keys and escapes, half way down the highway he realises that there is banging coming from the back of the car and he stops to let the younger brother of the victim out of the car..
Dwight, the ultimate vagabond hitman has a lot to deal with now, getting himself cleaned up he heads to his sister’s house, he confesses and warns her that trouble will be heading to her house as his abandoned car is registered to her address. The lack of news about the murder means that the family attached to the ex con have not gone to the police and that his clan/family are likely to be out for revenge. But our uber quiet anti hero isn’t quite prepared for the war that he’s brought down upon his head.
Jeremy Saulnier, despite his young age, already has a knack for keeping things pretty low key, the quietness of the main character reflects his lonely situation. The pieces of his family history start to unravel the story, this ex con, Wade Clealand had killed his parents, he’s angry and hell bent on revenge, but killing the one person who he’s hated all these years, after the disastrous attempt which only succeeded by total fluke does he bumble along. He does get help along the way, as this task is amazingly huge but being up against a pack of degenerate criminals his future doesn’t look so bright.
I’d forgive you if you were crazy, but you’re not. You’re weak.
There’s some interesting camera work and the methods used seem to swing the entire movie around our main character, his glassy eye stare that seems childlike soon develops more malice as the movie progresses, he looks pretty feeble but he does take a crash course in becoming a cold hearted killer and is very different by the end of the film.
It’s quite an epic and subtle journey, it doesn’t feel like the film is getting anywhere, there is an uncanny knack to the film that it seems the world around Blair is moving so slowly, from this peaceful days on the boardwalk right through to the end he is simply trying to get his life back on track, with all this carnage going on around him. Blair is such a wonderful actor, he looked so lost and starry eyed for the first part of the film, until he actually had to kill someone and look death in the face, but even then he still resembled a lost Moomin. And what a bizarre assassination scene that was, like a few others I can think of it happens in the toilets of a club but everything started to go wrong from that moment on. It seems as if the audience are forced to see the errors and mishaps, while Dwight just fumbles on regardless and seemingly unaware of the full potential dangers. As the film fades into it’s own dusk, the sense of dread strengthens, but looking back on the film it’s crazy at just how much blood is shed and in so many horrific ways.
Hey, man, I know this is personal. That’s how you’ll fail. No speeches, no talking. You point the gun, You shoot the gun.
Dwight takes quite a pounding, not necessarily standing toe to toe but taking on this bunch of degenerates he accidentally slices his hand open, takes an arrow to the knee and almost gets his head taken off several times. The violence is short and sudden but intensely graphic, but it’s washed over as to not make it the focal point. Time and time again the director pulls the attention back to the story which evolves as new information is uncovered. It seems clear at first but there’s a twist coming.. Just wait for it.
The film moves at such a pace that you can stop and take in the scenery, much like Dwight does, it’s only when he’s faced with the next problem his quick thinking mind shoots him into action which he overcomes as best he can. Without any support and against all odds the unassuming average guy becomes a brilliant hero.
Thought provoking and deeply delicate and penetrating, this sticks in the mind for so many reasons, I personally kept getting lost in the scenery….
R – Oldboy (2003), Bittersweet Life (2005), Broken Horses (2015), Green Room (2015), The Goob (2014)
L – Revenge Films, Toilets the dangerous place on the planet.