Sunday, April 27, 2014

Blue Ruin

BLUE RUIN: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, directed by Jeremy Saulnier (90 min.)

From the outset it is clear Dwight's appearance doesn't match the intensity in his eyes.  He is hidden beneath dirty long hair and a full beard that covers nearly all of his face.  This makes us focus on his eyes, and they are burning with desire.  For what, we aren't sure yet.  Dwight is homeless, a drifter, with only a dilapidated blue car to his name, but as I mentioned his disposition doesn't fit that of a homeless man.  He doesn't drink or act sickly or shuffle through the streets with a shopping cart.  He sneaks into homes to bathe himself and collects meals from trashcans, then eats while reading in his car.  In the morning, Dwight is brought in by a police officer, but even this seems out of place.  She is not there to put him behind bars, but she wants him to be in a safe place to tell him some bad news, news that sets the plot of Blue Ruin in motion.

Blue Ruin is a straight revenge thriller, simple and to the point, but one with enough inventiveness and twists in the story to keep the proceedings incredibly tense.  And despite its simplicity it is a strange and often fascinating thriller where nothing is fully explained, only shown.  The curiosity of these characters drives the momentum of the film to its messy conclusion that may seem too abrupt for many.  I found it fitting.

Dwight (Macon Blair) is told by the officer that a certain man is being released from prison.  Despite his lifeless body language, Dwight shows his emotions through his eyes and regardless of how much the officer pleas with Dwight to not do anything, she must understand what is going to happen.  Because we see his eyes, and we know.  Just like that, Dwight begins planning his revenge against this man, whose crime is clearly responsible for Dwight's current psychological and physical state.  He gets his car running and tries to steal a gun, which doesn't quite work so he takes a different route.  The man is released form prison and Dwight, waiting outside the prison behind the limo picking him up, follows the man to a bar.

I don't want to spoil the events which transpire because it will inadvertently spoil everything afterwards.  Dwight begins to exact his revenge, but the target shifts and changes and the scope broadens.  He sneaks into another home and cuts his hair and shaves his beard and it's as if we are given a new character in the film.  Seeing Dwight clean shaven seems to open up the picture on a visual level.  He visits his sister, who may be in danger, and the plot moves forward even more.  Dwight seeks out a high school friend, Ben (Devin Ratray), who supplies him with guns and teaches him how to handle himself.  Again, I don't want to say any more because watching the revenge plot unfold is the entirety of the film.

Blue Ruin is quiet and terse throughout with bursts of shocking violence along the way.  Macon Blair is captivating as Dwight, as he explains what it is he is doing and must do in a flat, detached voice that adds a certain chill tot he dialogue.  Everyone else in the film has only a handful of scenes along the way, it is Blair's film and he handles it well.  Director Jeremy Saulnier makes sure to keep the color blue in a majority of the scenes, and allows the film to happen rather than forcing any of the action.  The climax is a bit of a mess the way it unfolds, but it is brief and appropriate when all is said and done.  There is nothing earth shattering in the picture, but nothing is intended to be.  As a revenge film, Blue Ruin is a nice addition to the genre and a sign of great things to come from its director and star, who are both worth the price of admission.