[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00JWUUW4S][/pullquote] Originally released following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012, Jeremy Saulnier’s revenge thriller Blue Ruin has finally received a full release. Originally rejected by the Sundance film festival it later went on to receive acclaim at Cannes and has been building momentum ever since.
We are first introduced to Dwight (Macon Blair) a drifter on the outskirts of society, foraging in bins for food and taking baths in other people’s houses. It isn’t until a kindly police woman explains that someone has been released from prison that Dwight springs into action, buying weapons and setting out on the road to find the person who has been released and set about a series of events that see him quickly lose control.
Where most revenge thrillers would spend their run time building up the tension and suspense leading toward the actual revenge portion, Blue Ruin gives its audience all of that in the first 20 minutes. What follows is the aftermath, an escalating eye-for-eye type exchange with the family of the victim that sees Dwight initially try to return to normal life before realizing that he is already past that point.
Blair is a revelation, starting the film as a wild, bearded and animalistic figure, isolated from society, living hand-to-mouth and barely speaking a word. Following the revenge he shaves and cuts his hair and his transformation to terrified normal person is complete. Less of a standard hero, he establishes himself as a cowering anti-hero failing to ever seem comfortable in his role of avenging angel, or even confident enough to do the job that his actions have forced him to do.
Through this lack of confidence it is difficult to imagine he’ll ever be successful, and this is where the tension is built. It’s a genius way of subverting the norms of the exploitation genre and for once we have an avenger who doesn’t seem to actually want to do it, but is compelled to. This rich, compelling performance drives the action and the small moments of dark humour alleviate the growing sense of dread and terror.