Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 3:05 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

‘Blue Ruin’: Revenge through the eyes of a fearful amateur

A three-star movie review of “Blue Ruin,” an effective, low-budget thriller about an ordinary Joe (played by Macon Blair) who sets forth to kill the man who murdered his parents and learns that revenge is not for amateurs.


Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Blue Ruin,’ with Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack. Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier. 92 minutes. Rated R for strong bloody violence, and language. Sundance Cinemas.

advertising

They should have called “Blue Ruin” “Revenge of the Schlub.” A much more informative title, that. Much more on point for a story about a pasty, dumpling-faced fellow with sad, fear-filled eyes who, with terrible trepidation, sets forth to kill the man who murdered his parents.

Played by Macon Blair, the boyhood best buddy of writer-director Jeremy Saulnier, “Blue Ruin’s” main character — let no one call him hero — is a most unlikely looking avenger. We first see him, bearded and furtive, sneaking into empty houses to bathe and scrounging meals out of garbage cans. He’s homeless, broken, traumatized to near muteness by the murder of his parents. But then he’s galvanized to action when he learns the man convicted of their killings is being paroled from prison.

What’s most striking about this guy, named Dwight, are those eyes of his. With long passages of the story playing out wordlessly, it’s Dwight’s eyes that do the talking. And what they say is: “I’m afraid.” “I’m miserable.” “I don’t want to do this.” Yet he feels he must.

But this vengeance business is not for amateurs. Or the faint of heart. Dwight is both.

Things go wrong. People die. Dwight is clumsy, and bloodied, at each wrong turn of his mishandled mission.

Blair, an unheralded actor, carries the whole picture. He’s in practically every scene, and his performance is fascinating because in his eyes you can see the character struggling desperately with himself. You see, and feel, his fear with every step. You see the fear battling his doubts: “Why am I doing this?”

The determination that keeps him going is harder to detect in his eyes, but it’s there in his actions. A bad guy killed his parents. That bad guy must pay. But is the guy he’s stalking even the right bad guy? Is his vengeance misdirected?

Saulnier, working with a tiny budget partially funded through Kickstarter, directs with impressive skill. The picture is particularly gripping in scenes showing Dwight creeping soundlessly through darkened rooms, hiding from and later seeking out the bad guys.

Saulnier keeps his camera trained on the eyes of a man at war with himself. And we, the audience, can’t look away from those haunted eyes.

Soren Andersen: asoren7575@yahoo.com



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►