The Film Gang

Blue Ruin

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Listen to the review by David H. Anthony above, or read it below.

Blue Ruin is a film by Jeremy Saulnier.

Blue Ruin follows a classic formula. It is billed as a revenge saga. A thriller, viewers get almost no transition time. Within moments we are plunged into a world of few words; sight and sound narrow as an unnamed bearded protagonist must confront news of the imminent release of a convicted double murderer whose case we learn dates from 1993. The action takes the form of stalking as the hirsute antihero stealthily closes in on his nemesis. Retribution proves swift and sanguinary. Having avenged himself, the protagonist steals the murderer’s sedan, finding a passenger inside. Stopping, the two men briefly converse, beginning with this terse exchange:

Query: Did you hurt Wade?
Reply: Yeah, Wade hurt my parents.

Dwight, as he is soon called by a former intimate, reappears, shaven, unnerved by what he has done, yet clear-eyed enough to defend it as an act of self-preservation.
Macon Blair is Dwight. He moves as if in a dream, his gaze alternating between blank opacity and transparent terror. Yet he seems ill-suited for a chase, much less a kill. Dwight must learn to become an assassin and a desperado. Along the way he must solve the puzzle of his parents’ death. An hour into the story that is only beginning.

Blue Ruin is not for the squeamish. It is as desperate and dark as Peckinpah’s Wild Bunch or Straw Dogs, and as ruthless and single-minded as Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. The score often descends into head-banging metal, which seems fitting. As Dwight approaches his climax, the score shifts to No Regrets by Little Willie John.

The final half hour marks the ultimate showdown as Dwight wends his way to the woodsy house where Wade’s would-be companions have hung a welcome home banner. He leaves a message identifying himself as Dwight Evans and the liquidator of Wade and Teddy. Blue Ruin then reveals itself as a fatally finite family feud.

Blue Ruin is unsettling and it is meant to be. It has no happy Hollywood ending. It is the kind of cinematic experience that causes you to leave the theater scratching your head. It will not be for everyone. I surely would not take children to see it, under any circumstances, regardless of how violent a society we may have become. And yet it
speaks to that dark, angry, vengeful place in each of us, crying out for release, if only we did not have to face paying the price that would be required after salving our pain.

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