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Blue Ruin

Other // R // April 25, 2014
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Fandango]

Review by Jeff Nelson | posted April 18, 2014 | E-mail the Author

Revenge films have been done to death to where audiences are able to predict each and every beat. Even though many filmmakers continue to create them, we're very rarely surprised with any deviations from the formula that we've all come to know all too well. Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier has taken it upon himself to film his very own revenge feature, but with a series of completely different elements that take us on a journey of unpredictable plot elements. This is a style of filmmaking that many of us often crave, but it can be quite difficult to find. Well, if you didn't get the chance to see this feature at the numerous film festivals that it played at, American audiences will have the opportunity to check it out on the silver screen starting on April 25th. If you're a fan of unique revenge features, then this is one that you won't want to miss.

Dwight (Macon Blair) is a mysteriously quiet man who lives out of his car. He doesn't talk much, but his life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home in order to carry out an act of vengeance. This ultimately puts him and the rest of his family in danger. Dwight becomes forced to participate in a brutal fight, as the exchanges of vengeance continue to haunt of lives of two separate families. However, Dwight is willing to give up everything that he has left in order to protect the rest of those he loves and gain retribution.

The first few minutes of a motion picture are much more important than one would imagine. If there isn't some type of hook, then it could miss out on the opportunity to capture the audience. Blue Ruin hooks its viewers with its sense of ambiguity. We're placed in the life of Dwight and the puzzle pieces of his life slowly begin to come together as the running time continues. None of the information is spoon fed to us, as we become aware of what is going on. While the lead character's past and motivations are strong, it constantly feels like we're kept at a distance from him. This makes it a bit difficult to entirely connect with him through all of the intense attempts at retribution and freeing himself and his family from this past. Regardless, Saulnier keeps our attention and holds it for the entire duration.

Blue Ruin kicks into high gear with a bang, as it quickly stomps on the gas pedal, yet it manages to stay on the road. Even though we don't see the antagonists very often, we get the constant sense that they're lurking somewhere nearby. We never learn very much about Dwight as a person, but the tension radiates off the screen and into the audience. He continues to travel from one destination to the next, entirely aware that they are right behind him. We're finally introduced to an old friend who Dwight knew back in high school. This provides a little bit more character disposition from another party. The tension only increases from here, as we're still kept at the edge of our seats. There isn't a definite way that this motion picture could have ended, as it takes us down such an original path. You can try to guess, but chances are, you'll find yourself surprised. Each and every twist and turn works incredibly well, as it keeps the picture moving at an unbelievably smooth pace. The running time flies by, making it feel even shorter than it actually is.

Once the final twist of the film was revealed, I was quite shocked to see how it was handled. Most Hollywood pictures would have shoved this revelation down our throats, given us a pathetic explanation, and sent us on our way. Blue Ruin respects its audiences much more than that and takes what could have been a lame ending and transformed it into a well-crafted final few moments that will stick with you for quite some time after the credits are done rolling. This is a brutally raw picture that isn't afraid to go where many other pictures are afraid to venture. At the same time, it handles the delivery of plot points incredibly well. However, by the time the screen goes black, you'll feel as if you just got off of a really intense roller coaster. Blue Ruin has a high level of intensity. We aren't watching a superhero or a martial arts fighter here. Dwight is your average man, who is put in an incredibly dangerous situation. This is part of what makes this film so fascinating to watch.

While the performances are pretty strong all around, the character of Dwight could have easily been pulled under the water. Since he doesn't talk very much, this creates a challenge for the actor, as he must be able to deliver a lot of emotion through the use of body language and facial expressions. Macon Blair does just that in this role. His character is written to be so closed off from the audience, that I cannot put any blame on Blair for not connecting with the viewers. Even so, he makes it easier for us to sympathize with his situation and want to root for him. Macon Blair successfully makes this character feel real. We might not know very much about the man, but it's quite easy to connect with the pain that he feels over what has happened to him in the past and the need to protect the family that he has left.

Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier has created an outstanding atmosphere to go along with his motion picture. Blue Ruin is often drenched in different tones of the color blue. Sulnier films with such a sense of urgency, that it aids in keeping us entirely captivated. This thriller is quite brutal, and it handles each of its gags in an appropriate way. None of it feels gratuitous, as it adds to this unforgiving atmosphere. This is a picture that could easily fool any member of the audience that it was made on a much larger budget, which is a huge plus.

Blue Ruin is one of the most unique revenge thrillers to come about in the past decade. This is a powerful feature that has put writer/director Jeremy Saulnier on the list of the top filmmakers to watch. His style is guaranteed to have you sitting at the edge of your seat and gritting your teeth in anticipation of what is yet to come. This is a violent and surprisingly well-written thriller that captivates and engages, even if it sometimes keeps us at a bit of a distance. Blue Ruin is the best revenge thriller in years. Highly recommended!



Highly Recommended

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