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Blue Ruin (2014)
Blue Ruin marks only the second feature length film from director Jeremy Saulnier, after his debut big screen horror comedy, Murder Party (2007). Crowdfunded in part through a Kickstarter campaign, Blue Ruin premiered in 2013 at the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival where it won top prize from the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique (FIPRESCI) as part of its Quinzaine des Réalisateurs screenings hosted by la Société des réalisateurs de films. This feature's accolades also included film festival awards in Virginia and Hawaii in 2013, and it was featured in the non-juried Vanguard showcase of the Toronto International Film Festival later that same year, before its limited Spring 2014 theatrical release.
The tragic crime surrounding Blue Ruin is that it hasn't enjoyed much public theatrical exposure outside of last year's film fest circuit. I'm normally fairly skeptical of movies solely written by their director, they tend to be forgettable half-baked indulgences. However, this is a must-see treasure for fans of great on-screen performances and carefully layered screenplays that resonate beyond action and dialogue. Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier also served as cinematographer here, and beautifully embellishes upon aspects of this story simply through intelligent camerawork. My favourite example of many is from the opening scenes, where a seemingly innocuous glimpse of rusted bullet wounds in the aged Pontiac Bonneville sedan Dwight sleeps in underpins grisly revelations later cited on Dwight's journey into blood-soaked darkness.
Brooklyn-based Gigantic Graphic Novels' Hell City comic book writer and rising movie star Macon Blair is incredible throughout, as one of the most captivatingly underplayed leads seen in a while. Blair absolutely nails his believable, perfectly balanced portrayal of Dwight's fragile demeanour turned to grim revenge without ever feeling contrived or clichéd. Even when Dwight's inept rage backfires - which is often - it's tough not to feel sorry for this hesitant killer. By definition, this Art House thriller is another Hobo With A Shotgun (2011), but Blue Ruin is a tightly woven, serious story bereft of that earlier gorefest's uproarious over-the-top Grindhouse schlock.
As well, watch for Amy Hargreaves' notably impressive supporting role playing Dwight's far more willful sister Sam, whose family unwittingly lands in harm's way after he shows up unannounced at her suburban home. Good stuff. It's also fun seeing former TV child star Eve "Janet Brady" Plumb's unexpected, explosive scenes.
Definitely well worth seeking out and taking in, check out this carefully crafted and intensely compelling small cinematic gem for its immensely satisfying storytelling graced by Macon Blair's memorably astounding starring performance. Awesome. Reviewed 05/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
Blue Ruin is rated 14A by the
Ontario Film Review Board, citing occasional gory/grotesque images,
limited use of slurs, coarse language, sexual references, non-sexual
nudity with no close-ups, crude content, occasional upsetting
or disturbing scenes, tobacco use, and violent acts shown in
clear, unequivocal and realistic detail with blood and tissue
damage, and is rated NR by la Régie du Cinéma in
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