Saturday, September 27, 2014

Blue Ruin (2013)

JohnnyTwoToes discovers what maybe perhaps one of the best films of the year

Blue Ruin is a masterful piece of work from Jeremy Saulnier, He is a cinematographer whose only credit as a director is from an other film called Murder Party from 2007. I have never seen it but now that I have seen Blue Ruin, I will be seeking it out. Saulnier has shot 14 films and counting. Some short films and documentaries but this film will surely get him the recognition he deserves. It reminds me of the Coen brothers classic film noir, Blood Simple from 1984 about a hit on a bar owners cheating wife that goes wrong. Blue Ruin has some of the same style that Blood Simple has but it also is a revenge classic in its own league. 

Macon Blair plays Dwight. He is homeless and in the very first scene has broken into a house for a bath only to scoot out the window when the owners come home. He actually is living out his car on a Virginia beach when a kindly police officer brings him in to tell him that the man who killed Dwight's parents many years ago has been released. Dwight understandably is enraged and sets out to exact revenge but although he is smart, he is out of his depth. The people he is dealing with are career criminals that are not about to lay down. When the carnage starts, it has unexpected consequences for Dwight but he knows he must see this though to the end. 

Blair is phenomenal. I have never seen him in a film before this one and he plays Dwight as a kind person who NEEDS revenge. He does not crave it but NEEDS it. Dwight has never been much but he has always been able to provide for himself, except in the ways of the criminal world. It is here he learns a lot about how dark people are and the evil that is within. Blair is strong and capable but very naive in revenge. To the point you wonder if he can outlast his criminal counterparts. 

There is not one dull moment in Blue Ruin. The tension is palpable and you cannot guess how this will end. I won't say more about the plot because it would give too much away and Saulnier captures the tension perfectly. There was a knot in my stomach for the entire length of this film and he keeps the pressure on never letting up. Saulnier's script is intelligent and he has an ear for how people talk and behave. 

Dwight is no hero, but a man who demands blood for blood and Saulnier's direction and screenplay understand Dwight's psychological drive. Saulnier never overplays his material and he never dumbs it down. He keeps Blue Ruin, sharp, clever, witty (in spots) and chock full of energy for this material. Brooke and Will Blair (presumably siblings of the film's star who also executive produced) provide a minimally ambient score that is quite effective, but sadly, as of this writing it is unavailable. 

Blue Ruin is on DVD now and is making its way around the independent theaters, as well. Take this film anyway you can get it. It is a special little film that has no big budget (it was funded via a Kickstarter campaign), and made less than 300,000 at the box office but it did get an award winning Cannes Festival premiere! I would say Blue Ruin is every bit as good as Blood Simple and in some ways even better. Watch it, it is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year. Blue Ruin-**** out of 4


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