Wednesday, December 3, 2014
If Only God Forgives fails to make you empathise with its revenge saga, Blue Ruin definitely tugs at your heart with its nerve-wrecking, visceral tale of revenge. Blue Ruin demands some time from the viewers to settle down to, with its slow and ambiguous narration at the start. But what works for it is the curiosity that it manages to build up within the audience. Director and scriptwriter Jeremy Saulnier feeds the audience just enough information for them to participate in the story.
The movie opens with a hairy, bearded, homeless man played by Macon Blair who lives out of a rusted blue Pontiac. He sneaks into people’s houses to take a shower and digs through the carnival waste bins for food. He has his trusted Pontiac parked at the edge of town, near the beach, away from prying eyes. Blair has no lines almost for the first ten minutes of the movie. But the story starts rolling when he is taken in by the police, not because he is in trouble but because he needs to be informed about a recent incident. The audience is then informed “He will be released” and we are privy to a news headline stating that a double murder conviction has been overturned. Blair’s character is Dwight Evans and the audience gets a vague idea about his past. There is no further explanation as Dwight gets back to his car and packs up leaves in his Pontiac.
Dwight is then seen following the recently released man, Wade Cleland from prison, who we later learn had killed his parents. This disheveled, ragged, homeless, drifter, who shuffles along is now determined to extract vengeance on behalf of his family. He becomes a man with a purpose in his life. It is shocking to see how this mild mannered anti-hero steels himself to annihilate his parents’ killer. His planning goes awry and he is forced to improvise. The killing is a messy scenario and Wade’s murder is both grotesque and bloody for a number of reasons. Realizing the fatal mistake of taking on the entire Cleland clan, Dwight breaks into another house, treats his wounds, cleans up, shaves and looks like the quiet next door neighbor in his borrowed blue shirt and tan slacks. Dwight is a dubious avenger, ill-equipped to face the situation which makes Blue Ruin a far more suspenseful movie than the archetypal revenge-violence movie.
Blue Ruin spills quite a lot of blood; there are bullets flying and knives cutting and is both gory and graphic. Yet Saulnier does just enough like a responsible craftsman to make it seem real, without making it look like a blood fest. Blair embodies fright, his eyes are riveted with fear, fear for both his life and his family’s. But his sad brown eyes aren’t the least bit comical, it tells you about real emotions, about his confusions, his doubts, his hesitations.
Blue Ruin is an intelligent thriller which tries to re-define the concept of revenge movie by providing the audience a sequence of alternating scenes of method and violence.