Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier, 2014)

Amply delivering in the realm of apt, moreover multifaceted minimalism, Jeremy Saulnier’s Kickstarter-funded Blue Ruin is a rare and appreciated cinematic commodity. As it opens with a focus on literal beach bum Dwight (Macon Blair), we’re soon offered insight into his downtrodden lifestyle, what with the release of a certain convict from a Virginia prison prompting him to exact murderous if messy revenge. Hasty and poorly planned as such, Dwight’s actions predictably spark a blood feud between his family and the other, of which palpably grows in intensity as our near clueless protagonist fumbles to keep the former safe and sound.

Although sparse budgeting has often yielded worthwhile cinema, it’s still refreshing to happen across something as intelligently realized and well-structured as Blue Ruin. It’s simplistic in intention, sure, but Saulnier’s deft mood-swinging capabilities and subsequent balance of dark and darkly humorous are hard to ignore. The film finds solace in Macon Blair’s Dwight’s silent but (awkwardly) deadly demeanor, what with an appropriate air of dread-filled uncertainty coinciding with consequence at frequent intervals. In fact, it’s his general meekness that builds tension in conjunction with intermittent resourcefulness, especially given the very real presence of those intent on extinguishing his and his sister’s lives.

All things considered, Blue Ruin is an agreeably frills-free affair – one that writer/director Saulnier has crafted in a semi-obvious attempt to merely please viewers. It’s compact, steadfast in its narrative trajectory, moodily dynamic and affecting as such, however it still steers clear of self-seriousness despite delving into agreeably grim territory. The humor rarely falls flat and suits the proceedings well and, more importantly, the film isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty when Dwight decidedly gets down to the brutal and bloody thick of things. Blue Ruin is a back-and-forth revenge thriller of considerable intelligence and poise, therefore to consciously pass on its present VOD run would be a missed opportunity.

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