Blue Ruin Blu-ray Review
Sometimes independent films are able to convey their message in a more clear way than big budget films. It doesn’t happen often but every once in a while you get to see something on film that doesn’t have all of the big budget nonsense you’ve come to expect from your regular trips to the local multiplex. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I’ve spent so much time with BLUE RUIN, the indie darling that took the Cannes Film Festival by storm in 2013 and is an incredibly impressive cinematic work. For all the limitations of independent film, BLUE RUIN is a great, tense revenge film that takes the genre to a new level.
BLUE RUIN is the story of Dwight Evans, a curious loner who we quickly learn has fallen out of the world since his parents were killed. He’s lived alone inside an old, rusted out Bonneville for what appears to be years on a beach where he has easy access to free food from the dumpsters nearby. One morning he is visited by a law enforcement officer who lets him know Wade Cleland, the person who killed his parents, is about to be released from prison. Dwight decides (or perhaps finally becomes resolute in his decision) to find Cleland and seek vengeance for his parents’ murders but he has no idea the danger he will set into motion, or what could happen to his estranged sister and her family.
Dwight is not the traditional hero or ‘anti-hero’ of a revenge film. Instead he’s a quiet loner who seems in the early moments of the film to have found some sort of peace in his existence. When he is brought back into the world by his actions he handles things with the anxiety and clumsiness of a true everyman. He isn’t an action hero and he isn’t returning to the world to carry out any super-human storyline. Instead lead actor Macon Blair and director Jeremy Saulnier have created someone more universal; a broken man who seeks revenge and then realizes what his actions will actually mean to the few remaining people in his life. The result is a tightly woven revenge thriller that goes way beyond the initial act of vengeance and delves into the brutal aftermath of Dwight’s actions.
The script is beautifully written but wouldn’t work without Blair, a lifelong friend of director Saulnier. Blair gives a performance that is carefully measured and pitch perfect. Dwight doesn’t want to be where he is but he carries forward towards the dreadful conclusion with a kinetic and nervous energy that belies someone who has been homeless and recluse for years. Now that I’ve seen it I honestly can’t think of a better person for the role – a larger-known actor might have only served to distract from the narrative rather than to truly enhance it.
Saulnier and Blair have worked on a few films together but this is the first to receive distribution, after earning a place at the Cannes film festival (and winning the Director’s Fortnight award). BLUE RUIN is certainly deserving of the recognition. Saulnier has a true eye for cinematography; he creates some beautiful, awful imagery in this film and demonstrates his creative prowess behind the camera while showcasing his friend’s talents in front of it. The editing and sound mixing are also quite good, carrying the story forward with a sort of minimalist take on the world.
And this is the true and awful beauty of BLUE RUIN. In simplifying the way in which the story is told, Saulnier serves to punctuate every single act of violence. The result is chilling. There is nary a line of dialogue, a sound effect, or a tone from the soundtrack that serve any purpose other than to convey and clarify the awful truth of Dwight’s world. Instead of glorifying the violence, as is so popular in modern films, each shot and is gruesome and punctuated with truth, and BLUE RUIN is a better film for it. I highly recommend this film.
BLUE RUIN BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.39:1) The BLUE RUIN transfer is beautiful in it indie-grittiness. It really complements the story and immerses you in the world of Dwight.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) BLUE RUIN features a very nice audio track that compliments the experience and immerses the audience into the world of Dwight Evans as his world untangles and unhinges.
Audio Commentary with director Jeremy Saulnier and star Macon Blair (01:30:24) A great commentary that offers insight both into BLUE RUIN and into making an extremely low budget feature film. This is a great commentary that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys commentaries and anyone who wants to learn more about independent filmmaking. (Additionally it’s just cool to hear Blair and Saulnier together, reminiscing about their lives wanting to make movies)
No Regrets: The Making of BLUE RUIN (18:56) The cast and crew all talk about their involvement in BLUE RUIN. This is a really interesting ‘cinderella’ story and you really come away feeling something for the cast and crew who put their lives into making this feature.
Deleted Scenes (04:59) Two scenes cut from the film are included on the Blu-ray with optional commentary by Saulnier and Blair. Tonally they didn’t really add anything to the film so I can understand why they were cut. The scenes are the Extended Opening and Limo Crash.
Camera Test (03:52) Some on-location shots from Saulnier, Blair, and one of the producers of the movie, this was used to recruit both the cast and investors to the tone of the film. It’s pretty nicely put together and a really interesting viewpoint.