I am something of a connoisseur of Revenge Film. Whether it’s Hong Kong action, Italian westerns, Elizabethan, Jacobean, supernatural, superhero, blaxploitation, sci-fi, fantasy, or horror, my butt is in the seat. With that said, I’m well aware of the limitations of the genre both in terms of plotting and theme. It’s damned hard to do something original with the actual story in a Revenge Film and most explorations of the repercussions of revenge tend to rely on working in other genre elements or playing around with the narrative approach to craft an original approach to tell the same old story. While Blue Ruin does hit some classic Revenge notes, Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier has put together an original take that not only surprises at nearly every turn, but also resonates the way only the best Revenge Films do without softening any of the blows or romanticizing the violence. The Movie I was considering saying something like “the greatest strength of this film is…” but there’s no single element that stands above the others. The script is great. The performances are great. The filmmaking is great. Blue Ruin is the total package. Saulnier’s cinematography is beautiful and the script really allows Macon Blair to shine as the emotionally devastated Dwight — a man who has been living as a beachcombing vagrant, eating from dumpsters and finding shelter in empty vacation homes when he isn’t forced to live out of his car. He’s been doing this since his parents were murdered, but when he discovers that the man who killed them, Wade Cleland Jr. (Sandy Barnett), is getting out of prison, he heads home to settle the score. The only problem is that Dwight really isn’t an action hero. He’s really just kind of a poor schlub who went a little crazy for a while and isn’t cut out for this mission at all. Surprisingly, Dwight gets the job done in an especially brutal and bloody scene, and he actually gets away with it. Sort of. Unfortunately the Cleland family is not to be messed with and rather than go to the police when they find Wade Jr. dead, they decided to take matters into their own hands. And thus begins a spiral of violence that doesn’t let up until… well… I won’t spoil that, but there’s a sense of tragic loss underlying nearly every scene that’s compounded by questions of culpability and guilt that builds right up to the rolling of the credits. A lot of reviews of this film compare it with films like Blood Simple, Fargo, and No Country for Old Men and those comparisons are justified. Saulnier’s script doesn’t embrace the stylized absurdity that the Coens’ work does, but it does have a similar tone and attitude toward human suffering — and it’s just much more real. But it’s a reality populated with characters informed by the milieu of Revenge Films that Blue Ruin is now a part of. You get a real sense that Dwight and the Clelands — and especially Dwight’s old high school friend (and gun enthusiast) Ben (Devin Ratray) — see themselves as the stars of their own movies, reacting the ways they’ve seen characters react on-screen: wailing and snarling, devising elaborate plans of action, and ultimately sacrificing everything for nothing. The Disc Blue Ruin is a 1080p transfer from a digital shoot and looks pretty good all around. It’s very clean and crisp and given the lack of budget, it’s damn impressive. Saulnier’s experience as a cinematographer really shines, making the most of every shot and playing to the strengths of the digital HD and minimizing most of the shortcomings of the tech. The audio is similarly impressive, with a very nice balance of highs and lows that rarely have you diving for the remote for quick adjustments. Dialogue and ambient sound is clear, while the violence and music never overwhelms. Honestly, for a film with a tight budget, Saulnier did everything right to make it look and sound as good or better than most big-budget studio films. The Extras Audio Commentary: Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier and actor Macon Blair get drunk and share stories of making Blue Ruin. Not only is this entertaining, but they offer a lot of good advice for low-budget filmmakers about finding funding, location scouting, and getting good performances from your actors. They also recommend splurging on a Five Foot Slider for professional camera movements, and real puking when puking is required. None of that fake shit. No Regrets: The Making of Blue Ruin (18:56): This is just what it says it is and covers the entire filmmaking process from coming up with the script, finding funding, releasing it into the wild, and responding to the amazing critical response. When you combine this with the audio commentary, it makes Saulnier and Blair seem like people you’d want to hang out with. After their first film Murder Party was successful they expected more opportunities to make movies, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Saulnier spent three years working as a cinematographer on other people’s films, honing his craft and developing the idea for Blue Ruin. And after a 30 day shoot on an approximately $40 thousand budget, he put together one of the best films of the year. Deleted Scenes: We’ve got an extended opening and a limo crash with optional commentary from Saulnier and Blair. Camera Test (3:52): When Saulnier and Blair were trying to woo investors, cast, and crew, they used this short video, shot while location scouting, which conveyed “the intended tone, look and atmosphere” they were aiming for. And it paid off. See larger image Blue Ruin [Blu-ray] New From: $10.97 USD In Stock Blue Ruin (2013) Blu-ray Review4.5Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 3 Responses Serdar (GenjiPress) September 12, 2014 I’ve heard magnificent things about this movie and I’m elated to hear that they’re apparently true. Log in to Reply Top Ten Favorite 2014 Crime Thrillers - Psycho Drive-In January 30, 2015 […] Blue Ruin is about as good as low-budget revenge films get. Hell, it’s about as good as big-budget revenge films get, too. […] Log in to Reply EZMM 2015 Day 6.1: The Battery (2012) - Psycho Drive-In April 4, 2015 […] few months ago I reviewed the indie-noir-revenge thriller Blue Ruin and was simply blown away. Not only because it was well-written and acted, but because it worked so […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.