January 8, 2015

Movie Review: Blue Ruin

Much like The Babadook, Blue Ruin came to my attention amid a decent deal of hype. No, it was not quite Babadook level, but virtually everyone who has seen it has had nothing but positive things to say about it. Of course, this raises my level of skepticism a few notches. Surely it isn't that good, is it? I purposely avoided full reviews or plot descriptions, but I also avoided the movie as a whole for awhile. It popped up on Netflix not long ago, so I added it to my queue and there it sat, starring at sappily with its big blue letters. Daring me to watch it. The time has come and I watched it.

Well, if Blue Ruin isn't something special. It is a fascinating excursion into indie land, one that a fan of revenge and horror would enjoy. I hesitate to call it mumblecore (shudder), but I can see its lineage going back through that once fashionable hipster style. Perhaps this mumblevenge or mumthriller. I don't know, but it is well into the indie bent, but as some great production value and tells a story that I actually want to watch.

Blue Ruin is a methodically paced, yet fascinating, character study that borders familiar revenge thriller tropes that genre fans have come to love. It never opens up and tells you what it is thinking, it just gives you enough to drag you along, make you wonder, make you curious, make you want to see beyond the frayed edges of the central characters arc.

Macon Blair stars as Dwight, a shaggy, bearded fellow who just seems to be drifting, lost. He lives out of a beat up old blue Buick and occasionally finds an empty home with an unlocked door that he will clean up in, perhaps take some new clothes. Well, his life changes when he is picked up by a police officer and told that a man is about to be released from prison. The drifter is clearly disturbed by this news.

The rest of it needs to be seen by you. There is not a lot to the plot of the film, it is all about what is going on in between the lines. Dwight is a fascinating, conflicted figure, someone who is so terribly damaged that he lost what little family he had. Emotionally stunted, Dwight is a man of few words, but can be read like a book. This movie takes you inside his world and how it crashes into that of others, past and present collide in moments of surprising violence.

Blue Ruin is a strong look at a fractured mind, how it processes, how it reasons. It is stripped down to the bare minimum needed to tell the story. The result of this is a grim atmosphere that permeates everything. There is a sense of dread that whatever happens, it is not going to end well. It is a great example of how you needn’t be complex and “clever” in order to be an involving and complex film.

I am not sure what else to say. The movie flows with a pace and purpose all of its own. Slow? Perhaps. I think it is more purposeful, methodical, unrelenting even. Dwight is an easy character to identify with, as the story reveals what fuels him, it is very easy to support him. It also begs the question of what would you do in a similar situation?

Highly Recommended.

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