Friday, September 27, 2013

Fantastic Fest 2013 Review: BLUE RUIN - Jonesy's Take

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Written by Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Macon Blair, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, and Devin Ratray.
Synopsis: An outsider's life is turned upside down when the man responsible for his parents' death is set free from prison. 

In a time when films seem to try to pack as many car chases, explosions, and bad dialogue as possible, it's refreshing to watch a simple film with straightforward plot and standout performances. BLUE RUIN takes the classic revenge plot, and muddles it down to a simplistic story of one man's determination to keep the pieces of his family together and to make the persons responsible for his pain pay.

Dwight seems like a passive, somewhat sweet homeless man. He lives out of his rusty car, but sometimes breaks into homes to take a bath. His world is turned upside down with the news of the release of the man who allegedly killed his parents. There's a sense that Dwight had a stable, happy life before the murders, but it was a downward spiral once they occurred. He still has his sister and her two daughters, but his quest for revenge has put them in danger as well.

The film only grants us Dwight's perspective with snippets of dialogue here and there that lets us piece together the events from the past. Unlike cliche thrillers, we are never given the full perspective or a lengthy exposition scene from the killer or his family. The story becomes more complicated as we find out more and more about past events, but it doesn't babysit the audience by spoon feeding us information. We're able to draw our own conclusions for characters' motivations.

Macon Blair is outstanding as the tortured Dwight. He gives a powerful subtle performance where we can see almost every thought and struggle on his face without him saying a word. What is fascinating is how relatable Dwight is. Like most of us, he's not some sort of secret military genius who devises the perfect revenge plan. Instead, his plan isn't exactly fleshed out, gets into sticky situations, and ends up making the situation worse for himself and his sister. Vengeance isn't as cut and dry as he hopes; it's quite messy.

For his sophomore feature, director Jeremy Saulnier has created a solid and haunting feature. He expertly knows how to build tension and lets his characters grow organically on the screen. It's a refreshing and understated thriller which quickly engulfs you with its characters.

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