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New Release Review - Blue Ruin

A homeless man exacts revenge on the family responsible for his parents murder.

Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves




Since the murder of his parents, Dwight (Blair) has been living a destitute life, sleeping in his beat up blue Pontiac, scavenging a living by breaking into houses and trawling for food in garbage cans. One morning he is woken by a police officer who informs him that the man convicted of his parents' killing has been released after serving just 10 years. With seemingly nothing else to live for, Dwight heads to Virginia to exact revenge, but finds his plan isn't as simple as he thought.
Blue Ruin is the latest movie to be funded through the increasingly popular method of crowd funding. Unlike Zach Braff and Spike Lee, who have recently used Kickstarter to exploit the goodwill of their fanbase, Jeremy Saulnier is a relative unknown, his only previous feature the little seen horror movie Murder Party, a film whose tone is so in contrast to Blue Ruin that he refused to mention it while seeking funds.
When American indie film-makers are forced to work on a low budget they usually opt for the genres of drama, comedy or horror. The first two require little expense, while the latter is the easiest to sell. Saulnier's sophomore effort blends all three. There's a definite whiff of mumblecore about the whole thing, while in its darkest moments it's quite horrific.
Too many low-budget film-makers, particularly American ones, become overly reliant on dialogue when it comes to telling their story with limited finances but roughly two thirds of Saulnier's film is dialogue free, and he shows a deft touch with his economical use of images. There's hardly a shot, cut or line of dialogue here that doesn't advance the story. Saulnier never gives us too much information, nor too little, we simply see and hear all we need to.
The relatively unknown actor Macon Blair, a lifelong friend of Saulnier's, is present in almost every frame and puts in a gripping performance as an avenging angel out of his depth. When we see him first, with his bedraggled wildman look, he makes for a convincing would be killer but after breaking into a home and cleaning himself up, he looks as meek as a lamb. Dwight's quest is made to seem as difficult as you imagine it would be and his attempt at stabbing the man who ruined his life has all the finesse of a toddler attempting to get the straw into a Capri Sun. Not since Hitchcock's Torn Curtain has murder looked so difficult and unglamorous.
7/10


Eric Hillis

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