Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Dwight has been dreading this for a long time: a bearded hermit on wheels, living out of his Bonneville, he’s cast himself adrift in time since both his parents were murdered 20 years ago. When their convicted killer is freed early in Blue Ruin, that history is wrenched into the present—just as director Jeremy Saulnier’s thriller transforms 70s-style blood-vengeance mythology by the light of a khaki-clad suburban present.
Fixated on the killer and his righteously clannish family, Dwight (Macon Blair) immediately embarks on some gruesome vigilante retribution. Hammurabi’s Code inevitably meets Murphy’s Law, but Dwight’s foolhardy focus—and extreme wound management—is harder to smirk at than a Coen Brothers equation. When Dwight resurfaces to meet his sister (Amy Hargreaves), a mother with kids, she sums it up as being crazy versus being weak, but beyond the question of moral fiber, he’s not entirely equipped for a tit-for-tat Southern feud, or guns, or successful deception.
Not your typical dark angel of justice, Blair looks meek and bullied, his eyes widening to Lorrean proportions. From the way a motherly police officer talks to him, he seems to be a guy who was already barely keeping it together, and now he clings to a purpose. (His withdrawal from life and self-isolation from his sister add another kind of loss to the double murder.) As he seeks out a high-school friend (Devin Ratray) for help, it feels more and more as if he’s struggling to fulfill a role. Blue Ruin becomes a kind of perverse coming-of-age film even as he creeps through the spaces of the Southern-noir-tinged photography, even as Dwight seems weirdly deracinated from any heritage, to the amusement of his quarry.
Though the tone remains open (notwithstanding the overuse of the song “No Regrets,” crying out for a moratorium on semi-ironic credit-sequence song deployment), it’s also a movie that doubtlessly comes alive differently depending on the audience—as each member stares down the notion of totally unhinged commitment, nervously chuckling, or shuddering.
Opens April 25