Blue Ruin Screen 16 articles

Blue Ruin

2013

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  • It's in this way that Blue Ruin ends up within the broad realm of movies which, despite well-intentioned efforts to make a statement on violence, end up themselves consumed by the power of that force. As much as the film may want to convey a negative impression of its ensuing bloodshed, through grubby public bathroom stabbings and unglamorous shootouts, it inevitably runs off the innate power of such scenes, the inherent excitement of bad guys being stalked and killed.

  • Blair excels at conveying a highly specialist form of despair as Dwight, who after a shave and outfit change shuffles around like an unhappy office stooge compelled to violence by an aberration of destiny. There is a disconnect between his original character and the rote villains (a family of revolting hicks anyone?) that reflects the marriage between originality and banality in the film as a whole.

  • Nice even flow to the images, smouldering wordless vibe with moments of woozy intimacy (Saulnier is Matt Porterfield's DP too), plot and tone a little tentative. When you get details like hero downing glass after glass of water so he can piss on the grave of the man who killed his parents, it's clear that what's intended is a kind of pitch-black comedy, but the film just misses that sweet spot where everything works on two levels simultaneously...

  • Saulnier rarely uses declamatory dialogue, as when Dwight's sister laments "I'd forgive you if you were crazy. But you're weak"—the kind of dialogue that explains too much. By film's end, Saulnier's grip on Dwight is so relaxed that the film's inevitable conclusion is as underwhelming as it is predictably anticlimactic. "Blue Ruin" is at its best when it's a virtually silent film about how a man's need to resolve past trauma is necessarily messy.

  • As an action thriller, it’s a rarity, eschewing bombastic high-concept set pieces for the intimate tension of one man’s multiple moments of truth, as he faces down the unrepentant souls who destroyed his family... Blue Ruin puts on dramatic display the vicious mindset that the NRA and unchecked gun-loving culture have ingrained in a significant portion of our country. It’s a long, hard look into the abyss.

  • Blue Ruin is crisply photographed and powerfully acted, and packs a fistful of nasty surprises. But it can’t quite decide if it wants to be a full-throttle redneck revenge flick or something closer to the likes of Winter’s Bone, a more thoughtful slice of indie drama. Attempts at emotional depth fail to convince... The result is a film that starts with a bang and ends with a shrug, but keeps us entertained throughout.

  • A lot happens in Blue Ruin, some of it nasty, some of it generic—and the film wouldn’t be half as interesting as it is if not for the casting of Macon Blair as Dwight. It’s his big nervous eyes and bushy quizzical brows that make the film—as if he himself is surprised that he’s turned out to be the one hidden beneath the Unabomber beard, as if he was expecting it to be someone else.

  • Stingy with details and dialogue, but more than generous with atmosphere, this seductively photographed thriller (written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, who also wielded the camera) sells its empty calories with great skill.

  • Blue Ruin is a very good movie when it closely involves itself in specific tasks—the practical problem of removing a crossbow bolt from the meat of your thigh, say, or of trying to get the lock off of a stolen handgun. When making the leap from minutiae to universal truths, however, the movie goes tumbling into the gap between.

  • Starts unpromisingly, uber-ponderous and potentially dismal — heavy tragedy, family feud division, without Shotgun Stories' charismatic leads or regional specificity — but gets leaner and funnier. More dialogue helps: the no-talking set-up feels rote and ponderous rather than lean and carved-away, but what eventually comes out of people's mouths is often surprising and funny.

  • The effects of Blue Ruin are primarily visceral and immediate: in my case, a cringe or a squeezed hand. But the specter of potential violence lingers, even though Blair spends the bulk of his screentime alone, as does the nonchalance with which Saulnier cultivates the film’s backwoods mythos.

  • Saulnier’s followup to the comparatively amateurish “Murder Party” is a feral and staggeringly well-conceived revenge saga that extrapolates one vagrant’s long-simmering quest to avenge the death of his parents into a study of how violence (a word that could apparently use some nice synonyms) is transformative, an animating force unto itself capable of turning tools into weapons and men into killers.

  • How the showdown plays out is unexpected, with startling revelations and sudden, jarringly realistic bursts of violence... movies with this kind of concise, direct storytelling can create a looming sense of dread more effectively than any number of grandiose, superficially cathartic displays of implausible retribution ever can.

  • Brilliantly shot and staged by director-cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier (who also wrote the script), the film locates the sweet spot between poised art cinema and exploitation-flick pandering and hits it over and over again; what keeps Blue Ruin from simply being a bludgeoning experience is Saulnier’s cleverness in knowing precisely how and when to throw his haymakers.

  • With this arty, low-budget thriller, writer-director Jeremy Saulnier creates a pungent aesthetic from disparate elements of the American past; the story evokes the Hatfield-McCoy feud, the small-town settings look as if they were built in the mid-20th century, and the grim tone and regional flavor recall certain exploitation films of the 1970s. Saulnier makes impressive use of silence and slow camera movements, allowing the suspense to simmer until violence seems practically inevitable.

  • For all the expert build-and-release of tension and Blair’s heartbreaking performance... as the film goes on there is also a feeling that ultimately it can’t have it both ways, that we can’t be both inside and outside Dwight’s fateful mission. Saulnier, impressively, has evidently thought this out, for the final confrontation brings in another set of family photographs, jolting us (and Dwight) into recognition of just how far he’s strayed from the hearth and home that shaped him.

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