A dark and moody revenge thriller, Blue Ruin is not your typical crowd-funded film. The result of a successful kick-starter campaign, this independent feature from exciting new talent Jeremy Saulnier charts the efforts of an ordinary middle-aged man willing to take extremely violent measures in order to achieve revenge.
The film centres around Dwight, a bearded and bedraggled vagrant who after receiving word that the man imprisoned for murdering his parents is set to be released, goes out and seeks bloody justice.
Bloody is the operative word. From stabbings to the face to gunshots to the head, the film is punctured by shocking spasms of violence. Saulnier is fascinated in not just highlighting the raw brutality of such acts, but also how easy it is for our fleshy and fragile bodies to be both physically and psychologically damaged.
Dwight is most damaged of all. The murder of his parents has rendered him near catatonic, with very little dialogue in the film. Looking like a cross between Paul Giamatti and George Osborne, newcomer Macon Blair brings a believable ordinariness to the role that only heightens the jeopardy.
He's a man with the determination but not the skillset of a vigilante, and the film bubbles with plenty of excruciatingly tense scenes as Dwight blunders his way through various firefights. A lot of humour stems from his complete ineptitude to the task at hand, such as when he misses a target with his rifle from two metres away, or one particularly uncomfortable scene in which he tries to cut out an arrowhead from his leg. It all makes for a thoughtful subversion of the typical impervious hero who has come to dominate most Hollywood films.
But Dwight is dearly lacking psychological depth. We are given motive, but little else in order to truly sympathise with and understand his plight. The same goes for the villains of the piece, the Cleland family. Where everything else in the movie is subtle and nuanced, the redneck group that Dwight is fighting are presented as evil and omnipotent, a stain on the landscape that needs to be removed.
From its cool colour scheme to the ominous hum of its sparse soundtrack, this stripped down revenge tale has many admirable elements, but the lack of fully fleshed out characters means that his this family feud lacks bite. Like the navy colours that shade the film, Blue Ruin is a dark movie full of suspense that will ultimately leave you cold.
Blue Ruin will be released in cinemas on 2 May.