Jan Brady (Eve Plumb) with a machine gun is the least of the many good reasons to see the new film, Blue Ruin; a different sort of “revenge” flick, where the protagonist is an awkward and shy homeless man struggling to even a score and protect his estranged family.
It is so refreshing to see a movie of this genre that doesn’t star an action hero like Jason Statham, and that serves a more realistic look at taking justice into one’s own hands and the long term cost of that violence on the families who are affected by it.
On the surface, Dwight (Macon Blair) is a dirty and scraggly derelict living in an old blue Pontiac Bonneville that has been abandoned near the beach. The car is old, rusted and bullet riddled, and is likely the impetus for the movie’s title. Its origin will become clearer as the tale moves forward.
The homeless man is awakened one morning by a police officer who informs him that his parents’ murderer is being released from prison, and from there a story of vengeance unfolds that includes several surprises and unexpected turns (best left unspoken here.)
Written, directed and photographed by the multi-talented Jeremy Saulnier, Blue Ruin is a meticulously crafted thriller with an unorthodox protagonist whom you grow increasingly sympathetic for as the story progresses and reveals its secrets.
Macon Blair delivers a superb performance as Dwight, and, again, it’s great to see a character in an action film that you can actually relate to as a potentially real person. He doesn’t have a fancy car or an arsenal of weapons; just a deep rooted desire to see justice done. (Imagine Bruce Wayne if he hadn’t had rich parents or any other resources.)
As mentioned, Eve Plumb (formerly Jan Brady of the Brady Bunch) has a small role in this film as Kris Cleland, part of a redneck family that is the target of Dwight’s ire; but the only other major performance worth mentioning is Devin Ratray as Ben, Dwight’s only friend and confidant. This movie is pretty much Macon Blair’s show, and probably the first quarter of it is simply Blair with almost no dialogue.
Blue Ruin is a very good and very different kind of vengeance film, but it is also one of the better movies I’ve seen in the genre. It’s got great acting, some dark humor, an unconventional story, and plenty of suspenseful action. Seek it out and see it soon before it’s overshadowed by the upcoming summer blockbusters. Grade: 8/10
Photos © 2014 RADiUS-TWC