Sunday 14 September 2014

Review: Blue Ruin

Year: 2013 (U.K Release 2014)
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Screenplay: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves

Synopsis is here:

While reading the deftly crafted review of Blue Ruin from my good friend and accomplished cinephile Micheal Ewins, I couldn’t shake off my own feeling of indifference towards the movie. I couldn’t feel the way Mike does about this movie, despite the film really being something I’d usually devour.

Blue Ruin is the little revenge movie that could. A sophomore effort from its writer/director; Jeremy Saulnier, which gained it’s funding through Kickstarter and managed obtain a decent theatrical run along with its VOD release. It inhabits the same morbid humor that resides in the earlier Coen brother's efforts. Visually; its warm yet muted colour tones do a lot to hide the grim violence that punctuates certain scenes. The central performance of Macon Blair is a formidable one, balancing the character of Dwight’s fear, tragedy and confusion within his spoon wide eyes.  It’s clear in the film's craft, that despite the film's small budget, ambition resides in the filmmakers. Blue Ruin’s brittle tale of vengeance, features bold, messy acts of violence, spans across states and really wishes to speak about the circular hold of brutal revenge.

As the film draws into its second half, however, the film shifts into a slower gear, and never really push on the bonds that were forged in the early stages. Saulnier really sets the scene in the films beginning and deftly drives the film with its imagery over dialogue. You can feel the tension in the films first assault. The meeting of Dwight and his estranged sister; Sam (Amy Hargreaves) is one subtly fought with despair. By the time Dwight releases his true destination, however, the film itself loses steam. I never gained the sense of unpredictability that my friend Micheal enjoyed. While we should lose a certain connection with Dwight as he descends into this world of malice, I found myself losing the empathy that I felt back at the Diner where Dwight chats to his sister. I found myself simply waiting for the films beats to play out. An element of surprise had somehow been lost along with some pacing.

There’s still lots to take from Blue Ruin. A quiet pause for tea evokes one of the darkest moments of Goodfellas (1990). While the idea of keeping things “in house” is the disturbing thought that this may be the only way certain types of justice can be served in these backwoods. The performances are effective enough and the dark, offbeat humor does raise a smile. Yet when I compare this to the intentionally confusing and conflicting of Claire Denis’ Bastards (2013) or Shane Meadows powerful Dead Man’s Shoes, Blue Ruin feels a tad shallow. That said a film that manages to get me to chuckle at a wrongly placed garden rake is still a worthwhile view.