A powerful tale of revenge, quietly driven by a performance from Macon Blair, director Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin excels in its storytelling, building of tension and character development. When a homeless man, Dwight Evans learns of his parent’s killer being released from prison he travels back to his home to kill the man, after doing so retribution follows him. Saulnier doesn’t divert the audience away from the pain and struggle of the characters, Dwight’s not a psychopath but he’s deeply damaged and you see how the history between the two families has destroyed him.
The story of the Evans family and the Cleland family is slowly revealed during the film. Wade Cleland was convicted for murdering Dwight’s parents for unknown reasons but the film has Dwight come to new discoveries about why it happened. After Wade’s gruesome death, Dwight puts a target on his back, not to the police but to the rest of the Cleland clan. You as the audience are able to piece the whole conflict together but the revelations aren’t the main focus of this film. The main question the film asks is about the idea of revenge, Dwight’s actions are all for his family’s safety but their reason for danger comes from his decision to kill. That decision again stemming from his family, that makes Dwight a fascinating character, he’s not evil just broke. Macon Davis is extremely talented in this film, it’s not a dialogue driven film, a lot of the story is physical and he keeps it interesting the whole time.
Saulnier’s direction has the film move at its own pace, it’s not building to an epic revenge bloodbath between the characters. However it is clear that Dwight is damned no matter what, he’s a man who has to transform into a skilled criminal and Saulnier never creates a 180 for the character. It’s a slow build, Dwight’s tactics change as he goes along, a natural development of the character’s transformation. There are no grand monologues, revenge speeches, training montages – Blue Ruin is a quiet film, making its moments of violence so much more shocking.
A fantastic lead, a compelling and thought-provoking storyline that can create a dialect of morality with its audience, with a confident direction in its delivery. Blue Ruin’s attention to detail and uniqueness has it stand apart from other revenge films.