“Blue Ruin”: Revenge Served Differently

Not your typical revenge thriller. Not by a long shot. Blue Ruin depicts a man out for vengeance, but this man is no Frank Castle (a.k.a. The Punisher). He does not come with a built-in set of skills to hunt, wound, or kill. He’s no ex-navy seal. Dwight Evans is an average Joe. When an arrow punctures his leg, his leg is out of commission and he needs to go to the hospital to receive treatment. When his prey is in the crosshairs, only two yards away and totally dead to rights, he blows the shot and misses. He’s a hopeless man, except he’s got a strong motivating factor behind him. His parents were killed by a man named Wade Cleland many years ago, and when Evans learns that Cleland will be released from prison, Evans wants revenge.

However absurd Evans may be, you’ve got to hand it to the man for his follow-through. Not many men have the guts to take matters into their own hands and even the score. There is no plan to his killing, he simply acts upon impulse and does what needs to be done with no regard for the right time or place. Within an hour of being released from prison, Wade Cleland is dead, stabbed to death by Dwight Evans, and the ruthless and murderous hunt to even the score between families is on. And it’s not going to be pretty either. Murder and revenge never is. Evans is like a classic protagonist from Film Noir. He’s got a one-way ticket to Hell. One foot in the grave, and he knows it. But he’s not going to hit the big-sleep until things are set straight and he’s had his revenge upon that damned Cleland family.

I admire Blue Ruin for its kitchen sink aesthetic and simplicity. Macon Blair and Jeremy Saulnier wrote the script around things and locations that they could use at no cost in order to complete the film. It’s run-and-gun filmmaking, yet the end product is well-conceived and concise. The directing is razor-sharp and the acting is grounded and believable, mostly because the actors are people I’ve never seen before and I cannot subconsciously associate them with any kind of previous character traits.

I especially like the writing, or more appropriately the perspective the writer(s) chose to take. The whole story is told from the protagonist’s point-of-view. It’s not the first time a film has been told from this perspective. Roman Polanski is a master of the written/directorial technique which he proved in Chinatown, but by having the story told from the lead character’s point-of-view, in which we (the audience) learn information as he learns the information, adds further suspense and mystery to the film. It allows for audiences to stay connected. When the character’s heart breaks, our heart breaks. When the character is saved by a bullet from a friend’s gun, we all breath a sigh of relief. Character point-of-view is crucial to any mystery/thriller and Saulnier understood its importance.

I love receiving a breath of fresh air. To be totally engaged and engrossed in a film that does not draw attention to itself. It’s like reading a book when no one else is around and there are no distractions to separate your attention from the story. Nice to know little crime stories like this are still being made by independent and self-financed filmmakers.

Read more on how Blue Ruin came to be made in this MovieMaker article here.

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One thought on ““Blue Ruin”: Revenge Served Differently

  1. I didn’t care for Blue Ruin at all – the script and story were BAD. I think the cinematography and directing and editing were very good from a technical standpoint, but the meager story, which I found kind of implausible and ridiculous in the end, didn’t impress me at all. Not sure why this film is so acclaimed.

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