Cert: 15 Runtime: 90 mins Director: Jeremy Saulnier Cast: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack and Eve Plumb
The keys are in the car… the keys are in the car… the keys are in the car
Every so often, when the stars align, along comes a small art-house flick that manages to capture your attention like nothing before. And Blue Ruin, film-maker Jeremy Saulnier’s Cannes Film Festival entry, certainly captured my attention like nothing before. It’s certainly odd – no big names behind it, no overcomplicated tat, just clean and effective film-making.So what is Blue Ruin about? Scruffy and bearded thirty-something Dwight Evans (Macon Blair) leads a quiet life as a beachside vagrant. He scavenges for food and sleeps in a rusty, beat-up old car. But Dwight’s aimless existence suddenly acquires renewed purpose when he receives some unwelcome news related to his past. Transforming himself overnight, he sets off for his rural Virginia home town. But Dwight’s skills as an assassin leave something to be desired. To protect his estranged family from harm, this bumbling would-be killer now finds himself locked into a vicious and brutal cycle of vengeance!
I respect films that have the guts to show, instead of just telling the audience everything upon entry. Blue Ruin had the ability to squander everything, and squish the back story into some lazy exposition or some heavy-handed narration. It, however, doesn’t. We can latch onto the curtain, and tug as hard as we can to reveal the stage behind, but that stage is shrouded in the fog of mystery. Thank goodness it is, I say. If it weren’t, this film wouldn’t have much substance. But, hiding behind the convenient layers of the story, it reveals the necessities and lets your mind wander. Nothing more, nothing less.If I didn’t know any better, I would instantly associate Blue Ruin with the brutality of Nicolas Winding Refn, or the dark wit of the Coen brothers. It’s a fairly typical revenge movie – Dwight is angry about an injustice, and proceeds to shoot almost everything. By that description, you’d likely associate it with a Tarantino flick – but it isn’t one. The most interesting element of Saulnier’s revenge flick is its humanity. This isn’t to say Tarantino is without humanity, just Blue Ruin has oodles and oodles of it. Dwight seems to stumble through everything, smothering fingerprints over every surface, and coating everything in blood.
Hell, at one point he tries to imitate the Terminator as he attempts to remove an arrow from his leg – scalpel at the ready, and blood oozing from his wound, he ends up stumbling into an operating room, and having it removed there instead. He doesn’t really know what he is doing, but he gets there in the end nonetheless.Blue Ruin is so straightforward, and rather predictable, but still has the twists and turns it needs to be an interesting story. It manages to shroud Dwight’s past in the shadows of a mystery, and unravel slowly, but not so slowly as to bore everyone’s brains out. It has its fair share of bloody gore, which is fun, and heartstring-tuggings, which is effectively emotional; you won’t be bawling, but Dwight’s puppy-dog eyes are rather pathetic (in the best sense of the word). And so, if you want to make an effective movie, imitate Blue Ruin; show, instead of tell, and do take your time; you have plenty.