Blue Ruin tells the story of Dwight Evans (Macon Blair), a man who's been so consumed with satisfying his need for revenge that he's put his entire life on hold for years, literally, waiting for the day when one Wade Cleland, Jr (Sandy Barnett) would be released from prison for the double murder of his parents. When Dwight receives word that Wade is about to be released from prison, he sets in motion his plan for retribution that will have unforeseeable and far-reaching consequences. After Dwight viciously murders Wade Jr and is subsequently so discombobulated by the whole event that he barely manages to escape the scene of the murder, he does so, but while leaving behind pieces of evidence. Dwight's stunned and dizzying reaction to the actual act of murder demonstrates that it's easy to plan revenge, but the effects of actually doing something like that on your psyche are unknowable until it's too late.
Once the deed has been done, Dwight unexpectedly shows up on the doorstep of his sister, Sam (Amy Hargreaves) and tells her what he's done. Sam is shocked, but neither condemns nor condones his actions. However once Dwight realizes that the murder hasn't been reported, he soon realizes that the Cleland's are probably out for their own brand of justice. After following the evidence left by Dwight they track him back to his sister's house where they engage in a melee and Dwight manages to incapacitate Teddy Cleland (Kevin Kolack) and enlists the help of an old school buddy of his, Ben Gaffney (Devin Ratray) to help him either kill Teddy, or to try come to sort of understanding between the two families. While Dwight is talking with Teddy certain facts come to light that will cast a pretty big shadow over everything Dwight thought he knew about his family and himself.
I love a good old fashioned revenge flick, they're right up my alley, but I've gotta be honest, when I sat down to watch Blue Ruin, I wasn't expecting much at all. The revenge theme is a common one that runs through many movies, but as the old adage goes, it's not the destination that matters, but the journey, and Blue Ruin took me on one hell of a journey. From start to finish Blue Ruin was a thoroughly captivating and totally mesmerizing experience, it's a slow burner for sure, but it doesn't feel like it. It never drags and it never felt boring or lagged, the editing was tight and succinct.
Its brief 90 minute running time doesn't give it much room to breath, yet the pacing felt very smooth and comfortably ambulated. I notice that most revenge movies follow the formula of escalation, escalation and more escalation. Blue Ruin however has brief moments of violent escalation, but instead of piling on more and more escalation, the violence is followed by long and contemplative moments. When most revenge movies are trying to get us to hold our breath, Blue Ruin is getting us to exhale, to slow down and to appreciate all the nuances of the narrative that's unfolding and the circumstances these characters find themselves in and how they deal with it. It all works exceedingly well.
Although the cast is small, they all excel, especially Macon Blair as Dwight, his transformation from the shaggy haired and creepy-looking bum to the respectable white collar worker is astonishing. The dialogue is minimal and wickedly sardonic in parts, managing to insert some super black comedy and levity into what's a very seriously bleak and tense movie, yet it's also quite clever and poignant when it wants to be. I was thoroughly impressed and enjoyably surprised by Blue Ruin. This movie is definitely an under appreciated gem of 2013 that absolutely deserves more recognition. Blue Ruin has great acting, intimate cinematography, brilliant dialogue, a smart script, realistic violence and it's just a relatively simple story that's told remarkably well in a refreshingly unique way. Perfect in almost every way.
Written by - The Sentry - 05/05/2014