October 11, 2014

Blue Ruin

Jeremy Saulnier, 2014
When homeless and broken Dwight (Macon Blair) receives news of a convicted killer's release, a killer who had killed people very close to him years before, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

Blue Ruin is a product of the world of crowd-funding, with the production costs funded by a Kickstarter campaign. A very nice looking film, albeit being a dark revenge piece about vigilante justice. Served by a man with nothing to lose. Blair plays that man, soliciting sympathy within minutes of being introduced to his Dwight character. He spends the first few minutes of the film simply gathering things to eat, picking garbage at a neighborhood carnival in coastal Delaware. As soon as he hears the news of Wade Cleland's release, he begins acting out a game-plan that was likely a worse case scenario for Dwight. It almost seems like if Wade was never released, Dwight would continue stumbling through the days like a lifeless zombie. He soon finds a sense of mild purpose, justice for his parents' cold-blooded slaying. What follows is a chain of events that is similar in tone to Jeff Nichol's Shotgun Stories in the sense that it explores family feuding, familial loyalty and unforgiving retribution.

One moderate criticism about the film is the source of anger for protagonist Dwight. His parents were murdered years back. Of course that would be enough to make anyone deeply angry, looking for some form of justice outside of the conventional prison system, which clearly went easy on Wade. But Dwight has basically shut himself off to the world, almost as if when his parents died he gave up on everything without ever attempting to move on with his life (like his sister). Would someone choose this path after their parents were killed? Not that anyone would take their parents' murder mildly, but at some point they would lick their wounds and move on with their life, right? Dwight turns out to be the anti-Bruce Wayne. He doesn’t use the tragedy as a motivator to rid the streets of crime. Instead once the killer is imprisoned he goes into complete isolation, taking a vow of silence. Living out of his car, dumpster diving. He doesn’t actually attempt to execute any reparation until the killer is released from prison early. Perhaps his story would have been more realistic if it were his wife and child that had been killed. The film could have flashed back to the happy moments in his life in his suburban home with the white picket fence, only to be stripped from him after a home invasion gone awry. That being said, the story isn't COMPLETELY unbelievable. It's actually quite the opposite. Just a well-made/complete revenge thriller.

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