Review: Blue Ruin


Director:Jeremy Saulnier

Cast:Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack

Running Time:90 Minutes


One of the many ways Blue Ruin distinguishes itself from other revenge movies is that it dispatches with the actually revenge fairly quickly. The rest of the film is where Blue Ruin's black humor and intensity  reveal themselves.

Macon Blair, one of many unfamiliar faces in the film, plays Dwight, a drifter who takes the law into his own hands after his parents' murderer gets released from prison. But it's not quite so simple. What makes the twists and turns so unexpected is just how little Dwight thinks out his plan. He has determination but not a lot of foresight.

Dwight's act of vengeance brings serious repercussions on both him and his sister. So now a man who could barely take care of himself has to survive and defend the only family he has left. Though he occasionally displays some ingenuity, Dwight is in way over his head.

Writer, director and cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier uses gore effectively throughout the film. Though it's often quite bloody, it's never used for cheap effect. Like the Coen Brothers' debut Blood Simple 30 years ago, it shows just how hard"”both physically and emotionally"”it is to kill someone, even if that person might deserve it.

Even at 90 minutes, the film is perfectly paced, giving just enough time for backstory and the introduction of integral characters. The most interesting of which is Ben, played by Devin Ratray (a.k.a. Buzz from Home Alone). As an Army vet with a few mental wounds of his own, he offers Dwight help and a few words of caution.

A third-act twist covers similar territory as last year's The Place Beyond the Pines, but this film does it far more succinctly and effectively. It also boasts gorgeous cinematography but never seems pleased with itself. This is a visceral film about the nasty business of revenge and the vicious cycle it starts. Like the saying goes, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." Blue Ruin illustrates that in gruesome detail.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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