Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vengeance is mine…


When you practically open your film with a homeless man stabbing another man in the face in a public restroom, you pretty much set yourself up for one of those expected crazy horror-type movies, and so within the first twenty minutes or so of ‘Blue Ruin’ I was, wholly, anticipating some sort of Rob Zombie, homeless man on a rampage, blood soaked yet entirely forgettable and pointless lesson on gore and how to coat every frame with it.

Yeah, ‘Blue Ruin’ is not that kind of movie.

That isn’t to say that ‘Blue Ruin’ isn’t a terrifying film, but it is a smart kind of terrifying, a film that understands the strength of subtlety, and despite a pretty abrasive and blunt opening (like, that bathroom scene is remarkably intense), it shows so much restraint in the building of each moment that the bigger moments truly explode with impact.  This is one of those films that makes good on the slow burn, allowing us to soak in the anticipation of the inevitable and then, it just takes your breath away.



Like I said, ‘Blue Ruin’ opens with a bang.  For the first ten minutes or so we pretty much watch a homeless man, in silence, go about his every day; bathing in the homes of strangers, rummaging trash for food, sleeping in his rusty heap of a car…and then he’s approached by a police officer, who is obviously a friend, and then handed a newspaper and next thing we know, this man, now identified as Dwight, stabs a man in the face in a bathroom and then leaves, but he leaves behind him a trail, a trail that he needs to get rid of.

And then the story gaps start to fill in.

Dwight’s parents were murdered ten years ago.  This basically sent Dwight into a depression that wrecked him to the point where he became a nomad, a wandering homeless man with no connections to his former life, including his sister who has done her best to move on and is now married with children.  The newspaper reported on the release of the parent’s murderer, and the man Dwight killed in the bathroom was, to his knowledge, the man responsible for his overbearing pain.  But it’s not that simple, and it’s not that clear.  You see, this is a story about family, about vengeance and about some really messed up stuff, and with an unreported murder, it became clear that Dwight’s act of vengeance was not about to go unnoticed.  No, even more vengeance was in the air, and the trail Dwight left, unfortunately, led back to his sister.  Intent on ending things before they went that far, Dwight sends his sister away and holes up in his sister’s house waiting for things to happen.

And then they happen…and continue to happen.

I don’t want to say much more, plot-wise, because the way that Jeremy Saulnier builds this film is so incredible that you need to see this to appreciate it.  I have never been this nervous watching a film.  It doesn’t hurt that Macon Blair (a completely new face/name to me) is completely in this every step of the way.  His development of character is remarkable, and his depiction of grief, destitution, anger and pain is uncanny.  The way his eyes well up when he sees the man he loathes released from prison, the way he stares, blank and weary, after his initial actions…the way he cuts that arrow out of his leg!  My god, he sells it so hard.


Some may consider ‘Blue Ruin’ just your typical thriller, and in some respects they’d be right.  There is nothing new here, story-wise.  It’s not some incredibly intelligent film, but it is a brilliantly constructed film.  Sometimes it isn’t about the story you’re telling but the way you tell that story, and Saulnier and Blair tell this story brilliantly.


‘Deliverance’ meets ‘Straw Dogs’ meets ‘The Brave One’; ‘Blue Ruin’ is one of the very best thrillers I’ve seen in a very long time!

A, for sure, and highly recommended.  

16 comments:

  1. Absolutely! Love this movie. The way it builds is remarkable. And it packed a ton into just 90 minutes. Btw, we're thinking alike again. Posted my review of this, also.

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    1. YES! I'll be over to check yours out soon!

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  2. I have this in my Netflix queue. It's funny, a friend of mine who I agree with about 95% of the time on movies hated this, but now I'm reading all these positive reviews from bloggers. I think I'll check it out. Nice review!

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    1. I put this off forever, then finally checked it out and was completely blown away!

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  3. I have not even heard of this. Interesting way to style a thriller by finding out a man became homeless. What else is weird, to me, is the last picture looks like Andy Kaufman to me as Latka. Another to add to the list

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    1. LOL, I can see that (about Latka)...

      You should see this. It's one of the bigger surprises of the year for me.

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  4. I trust this is a good film Drew, it just sounds waaay too intense/violent for me. Haven't seen ‘Deliverance’ nor ‘Straw Dogs’ for the same reason. I hope Macon Blair gets more roles out of this, sounds like he delivered a great performance.

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    1. SUPER intense, but no more violent than The Guest...it's the intensity of what you're waiting to see happen that gets to you.

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  5. I think this is a tremendous filmmaking. A great thriller that stays clear of the normal routine gimmicks. Honestly I don't think this is a typical thriller. I love that Dwight isn't a tough, intimidating guy. The cool angle is that he is exactly the opposite. He has no idea what he is doing. He is making everything up along the way - flying by the seat of his pants. He is the worst guy to be going after revenge. I thought that unique angle was very compelling.

    So glad to hear from others who loved the film. It had a prominent place on my Top 10 from last year.

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    1. You are right, with regards to Dwight. He really is not your typical 'revenge hero' and that does add a really nice twist to this genre.

      And your opinion of the film was one of the ones that finally convinced me that I had to see this. I had put this off for way too long.

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    2. Movies like this really deserve an audience. It shows how true creativity doesn't always require a big studio wallet to visualize.

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    3. That is one thing that impressed me so much about the film, and one that I'm trying to work a post around, but seeing that Saulnier not only directed...but wrote and lensed this film really struck me. I love when these new, young directors really invest a lot of themselves in their films. It shows in the finished product.

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  6. " This is one of those films that makes good on the slow burn, allowing us to soak in the anticipation of the inevitable and then, it just takes your breath away."

    This is it! Right here. I felt this exact same feeling. This is a small movie that builds so much tension and reaches so much depth. My heart literally pounded 10 minutes after it ended. I had to literally get up and walk around the house after. I can't wait to see more from one-man show in writer/director/DP Jeremy Saulnier and the great actor in Macon Blair.

    Great review!

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    1. For real! I can't remember the last time I was so wound up just watching a movie. The scene when they break into his sister's house...and when he's in their house...and the fucking light comes on!!!!

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  7. Glad you liked this one so much! I couldn't find room for it on my ballot, but it's a great little thriller with a fascinating lead performance.

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    1. Yeah, this won't snag any noms, but it'll get top twelve placement in some ares, I'm pretty sure!

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