FILM REVIEW: Blue Ruin (2013)

Blue Ruin:
  • n. Low-end gin, usually home-made.
  • n. Complete and utter ruin, desolation.
  • n. A gut-wrenching masterpiece written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was in store for when I finally sat down to watch Blue Ruin. I know, I know...I realize that I'm a bit late to the after-party with this film. I think the buzz around Blue Ruin started sometime in the Spring. I started hearing about this crazy film full of dread and unrelenting tension. But, it wasn't really horror...even tho horrific things happen in it. All of my peers kept telling how amazing the film was. So...finally...I Netflixed it. I loved it.

I've never really been all that familiar with Jeremy Saulnier's work. What?? I'm not one of those cinephile maniacs that watches every single film on Earth, ok? Sheesh! I mean...I watch Jim Jarmusch and Jonathan Glazer movies. That's cool, right? Lars von Trier movies...anyone?

Anyway, Jeremy Saulnier is a masterful filmmaker. He wrote, directed and shot Blue Ruin...which pretty much ensures how awesome he is at his craft. I mean, damn...he is responsible for the story-telling, the direction...and how absolutely gorgeous the whole thing looks. Such a visionary, that Saulnier guy is. 

The film opens with our main character Dwight (played exceptionally well by the talented Macon Blair...more on him in a moment) taking a bath. Perhaps he's getting ready for work? Maybe he's just relaxing in his hot salt and lavender steam bubble bath? Or...he might be taking advantage of someone else's house and amenities. Well...if you guessed the third one, you would be correct. For you see, Dwight is someone who is down on his luck. Someone who's been through some terrible shit. You can see it in his eyes. However, by the looks of his daily activities, he is also very adept at taking care of himself in this cold world. He basically lives in his car and goes out and steals baths and whatever clothes he can find from random houses. Not in a vicious manner, mind you. Only out of the necessity of survival. I's better than staying at the YMCA, right? morning he gets hauled into the police station to be informed that someone very bad is getting released from prison. Someone very bad that did very bad things to Dwight. So, our man Dwight sets off to seek his revenge on Mr. I Just Got Released From Prison. And here we go.

The film is all about revenge. However, this revenge movie doesn't star any action stars or hot new blood...and nobody says..."Murdock...I'm coming to get you!" This film is all about awkward revenge executed by the fine acting skills of Macon Blair. Dwight transforms into so many different levels of his own being so many times that you almost forget about the down-on-his-luck beardo dude that lives out of his car. Thanks to Blair's ability to convey this particular character genuinely and completely, you end up feeling for Dwight's every unfortunate turn and cheering him on as he rounds the next dark corner. Blair's acting is what truly drives all the tension in the film.

There is absolutely nothing bad that I can say about Blue Ruin. It is gory when it needs to be. It is heart-wrenching and bleak when it has to be. And it never lets up. Not even for a moment. The film doesn't let you breathe. Every decision that Dwight makes has you squirming in your seat....hoping for the best...but, knowing that there is no such thing as hope in this film.

Jeremy Saulnier has created something truly special with Blue Ruin. It is a perfect and exhausting film filled with despair and tragic poetry. I've seen a countless amout of horror films over the course of the last few years and few have reached the level of thrills and tension that Blue Ruin  has in its 90 minute running time. One of the year's finest indie features. See. It. NOW.

Thanks for reading,