A lonesome wanderer’s life is shattered by terrible news. He starts a long trek back to his childhood home to carry out a revenge kill.
The narrative device is simple: to provoke a reaction out of this vulnerable—pitiful, even—character named Dwight (excellently played by a Macon Blair who uses his puppy-dog look to cunning effect, gradually morphing into a cold executioner) and confront him to the unbearable fact that the man who destroyed his family has been freed from jail and force him to act on it.
One Youtube commenter said “Blue Ruin” could have been called “Hipster with a gun”
The question that is raised is, is Dwight willing to keep living without suppressing the guilty—from his mind just as much as in real? The encounter between Dwight and his adversary in the restrooms of some out-of-the-way dive, will set the tone for the rest of the movie: it’ll have to be Dwight’s family or that of the other man, some collateral damage notwithstanding.
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“Blue Ruin” stresses the absurdity of man’s eye for an eye law. The narrative of the killing game of “Blue Ruin” is more similar to that of a contemporary western than a conventional thriller. It’s just as well, because that is where “Blue Ruin” draws its uncanny originality from.
With “Blue Ruin” Saulnier demonstrates a real talent in the representation of violence within the context of family-borne hostilities. Through a linear narrative Saulnier also captures with accuracy the downward spiral of the law of retaliation.
As with the films of the Taviani brothers and Carlos Saura the hatred that exists between two families for reasons that cannot ever be really known somehow leads to a totally nihilistic kind of extreme violence. The creepy atmosphere Saulnier creates also reminds me of Jennifer Lynch’s “Surveillance” (2008). Both films have that post-apocalyptic-America ambiance that’s familiar and foreign all at once to unsettling effect.
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What remains to be discovered is what the blue ruin of the title is. Could it be the blue klunker that Dwight drives across the land in search of his victims? Or is it Dwight himself, a kind of down-and-out ghost passing by in a world to which he no longer belongs, unaware of the consequences of his acts?
Saulnier was first noticed after his off-kilter horror-comedy “Murder Party” got the Audience Award at Slamdance in 2007. He took “Blue Ruin” to to the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes two years ago and also to Locarno. It’s since garnered a number of nods on the festival beat, from Toronto to Sundance.
Film comes out tomorrow in theaters and on VOD on iTunes.