Blue Ruin (2014)

Blue_Ruin_film_posterWritten & Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier

When murder leads to vengeance, does the cycle of violence end? In rural Virginia — which happens to be my neck of the woods — the answer is, apparently, “Hell, no … it’s just getting started.”

Blue Ruin is often so raw and real that I felt a bit like a voyeur. This compelling indie film echoes some of the themes in In the Bedroom, exploring how revenge, instead of bringing the sense of closure one hopes for, only deepens ones despair. The pacing is patient but effective, and the skillful storytelling conveys just enough information without revealing too much.

Macon_Blair_and_Pontiac_in_Blue_Ruin

Dwight (Macon Blair) is living as a vagrant on a Vermont beach, scavenging through trash cans and dumpsters, when he learns that the man who murdered his parents is being released from prison. He returns to his native Virginia, seeking out Wade Cleland, the man who destroyed his family. In the process he reconnects with his sister (Amy Hargreaves), from whom he has been estranged for two years, and seeks help from an old friend (Devin Ratray).

One of the things that shines most brightly is Blair’s performance — he has a tremendous gift for expressing emotions subtly yet powerfully. Throughout much of the film, he has the challenge of holding the reader’s interest with virtually no dialogue. Subtle variations in his facial expression and body language drive the story, and my attention never wandered.

It is also illuminated by artful cinematography, offering quiet moments, in just the right places, which highlight the natural beauty of rural America.

Blue Ruin is not a conventional revenge thriller. It is suspenseful, but at the same time it’s thoughtfully paced, closely observed, and full of emotion that is subtly conveyed yet raw. This is definitely one that film buffs will not want to miss.

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