Blue Ruin - Online Review

'succeeds in managing to both make a simple narrative compelling and to find wider meaning in a base tale of violence and revenge'

An impressive, almost constantly tense American Thriller, Blue Ruin succeeds in managing to both make a simple narrative compelling and to find wider meaning in a base tale of violence and revenge. Writer, director and cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier - whose previous feature, Murder Party, does not immediately signal it is operating on this level - presides over a film that is as patient as its bursts of violence are shocking, as composed as it is angry and vitriolic.

Whilst the core story revolves around Dwight (Macon Blair) and an ill-conceived run of revenge for past crimes against his family, the elements of American culture Saulnier seems to be addressing prove much more fascinating. Dwight, clearly damaged by what happened to his parents, opens the film as a homeless drifter, scrounging from a beach-side boardwalk, sleeping in the titular Blue Ruin of a car. But, within the first act, Dwight manages to get hold of a gun. Saulnier is at pains to point out it has a safety lock on it, but despite this, Dwight is armed by around the midway point and in possession of a veritable cache by the conclusion.

In a climate where American Sniper has just been received with various degrees of hatred/love for its main character's bloodlust, the things that Blue Ruin has to say about America's gun culture are fascinating. The safety from the opening act, for example, has little impact: it does not stop Dwight arming himself in the long run. Dwight's decision on what to do with the finale's cache too is interesting: here is a man who is not inherently violent but is driven by a need approaching honour and is enabled by his access to deadly force. The almost-final gunshots of the film too have a lot to say, both in terms of who delivers them and what they choose to do afterwards.

Even without the potential politics of Blue Ruin though, this is an entertaining and complete film, told with clarity and vision. An injury Dwight receives and how he deals with it could have taken up a substantial amount of time but, instead, Saulnier is brief, snappy and clear. There are better composed moments within the film but perhaps that is the one that truly announces Saulnier as a talent with vision. Why take many minutes to tell your story when several short scenes retain the momentum, tension and narrative? Here, finally, is a director who understands that concept.

Blue Ruin was showing on Netflix UK.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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