Review: Blue Ruin

Written by: Dee Pilgrim

The art of making a successful indie movie has never been better showcased than here, in  this small, dark, perfectly constructed film that sits somewhere between noir thriller and black comedy.

Macon Blair in Blue Ruin

Macon Blair in Blue Ruin

Directed, written and photographed with the deftest of touches by Jeremy Saulnier, it stars Macon Blair as outsider Dwight, who lives in his car by the sea in eastern Delaware, scavenging in bins for discarded food to eat. Then one day, a visit from the local policewoman changes Dwight’s fragile world forever; the man who killed his mother and father is about to be freed from jail. The solitary existence that has kept Dwight in a ‘safe’ mental place since the murders must now be cast aside because Dwight has made a promise to himself that he will carry out an act of revenge and in turn kill the man who ripped his family apart and stole the chance for a normal life from him.

From here, the film opens out as we follow Dwight’s meticulous planning of the dark deed; his return to his childhood home to be reunited with his sister Sam (Amy Hargreaves) for the first time since the murders, and his visit to old school pal Ben (Devin Ratray) who provides the murder weapon. Through these clunky, awkward but affecting interactions we see that although intent on an act of violence, Dwight hasn’t lost touch with his humanity, and Macon Blair plays him with such understated dignity you never once question his sanity or his reasons for choosing the violent course he is intent on.

As the film moves steadily to its almost inevitable conclusion it gets darker and bloodier but it also gets funnier as well. It is this black humour that stops Blue Ruin from becoming too savage and also retains the audience’s sympathy for Dwight.

The blue of the film’s title (presumably referring to Dwight’s sad life) is repeatedly referenced throughout by the blue of the sea, Dwight’s battered blue car and even the blue light emanating from a TV viewed at night. It is these little, genius touches that add so much to the film’s overall enjoyment and mark Jeremy Saulnier out as a talent to watch.

Author: Dee Pilgrim

Dee always knew she wanted to make her living from writing and so trained as a journalist before working for a variety of music and women’s titles including Sounds, Company, Cosmopolitan, Ms London, New Woman, and Girl About Town. After going freelance she concentrated on celebrity interviews and film, theatre, music and restaurant reviews. Her love of film goes back to her very first cinema experience at the age of five when her mother took her to see Bambi. She cried. At one time she was the Film Editor for NOW magazine and also the secretary for the film section of the Critics’ Circle and the celebrity coordinator for its annual film awards’ event. She has written a number of books for teenagers through Trotman Publishing, including five Real Life Guides to vocational careers (including Carpentry, Plumbing and Catering), and also three books on Real Life Issues (Money, Bereavement and Self Harm). Her favourite film is still Bladerunner.

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