Flick Reviews: ‘Blue Ruin’ (2013)

Blue Ruin is a 2013 crime drama-thriller directed by Jeremy Saulnier. The film’s synopsis tells that:

“A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.”


Blue Ruin is sharply directed by Jeremy Saulnier’s own brand of suspense. With the presence of the film’s mutely intense nature disseminated all around its frames of attractive silence, whatever is photographed basically speaks for itself. It knows how to create some tension, and it strikes at us every once in a while. The attacks it violently unleashes comes when you least expect it, Usually inserted in between the moments where its silence is at its peak, the pounces that it makes are violent and unexpected. A sense of suddenness comes into play, and it makes us realize the contrast between the film’s calm aesthetics and dark themes. The slow pacing allows for concentration, with the thematic depth getting fully realized once we analyze how significant the dialogue is no matter how small they are. Ambiance is what it clings onto the most, and it makes every ugly occurrence onscreen look rather poignant for the warm colors and the usage of the surroundings that gets visited by its lead allows us to step into his mind, and deeper into the film’s alluring psyche.


What is even more fascinating is that Jeremy Saulnier, the director himself photographed all of it. With that, every aspect gets expressed and emphasized with a certain profoundness. His vision gets displayed through the eyes of the art that it crafts, and in return builds a thriller bound in tonal serenity and eventual disturbances. Definitely, all of those makes Blue Ruin a unique treat for fans of the revenge-thriller genre, and at the same time makes cinephiles absolutely astonished with the sincere naturalism of its filmmaking. It is a thriller made for the viewers’ concentration and relies more on their attentiveness than than their excitement. However, if one were to talk about its predictability, there would basically be no conversation since every step that it took wasn’t quite easy to figure out.


What becomes noticeable in this thriller is how it infuses the photographs with the narrative. We are engaged in it as the photographs let us figure out the film’s sheer and brutal nature. Shockingly, the brutality is immense although not quite gruesome. Nonetheless, it serves as the film’s essence. It connects itself to its lead character as it is given meaning, and made every act of his deeply and emotionally rooted. Macon Blair wanted to make sympathizers out of us with his amateurish and innocent character, and he made everything so compelling with his gentle voice and emotionally-charged portrayal. His mellow acting completely lets us think about how bad his situation is, and the look in his eyes justifies the honesty of his character in his every move. All throughout, the sense of “silence” that accompanied him and the film itself is an aspect that absolutely stood out. It let on a total reflection in his morals and more so, braced us for the loudness that gets blared out in its austere climax.


The film’s story is always easy to follow, but it is never given less even if it looks watered-down. In spite of its appropriate and fitting lack of depth, it still offers tons of intensity. Through every scene, tension grows but is it made quite simpler than how it feels. Nonetheless, the simplicity grounds itself in a tenacious grit that never ceases to make Blue Ruin consuming. However, it almost splendidly exploited the lovely cinematography to be the storyteller whenever it kept itself muted. Even if it doesn’t involve shoot-outs, it still makes use of something to build a certain degree of strengthened energy over it.  Macon Blair’s Dwight and his progression as an amateur assassin is what makes our stay very much worth our while. Through him, the film’s aggressive themes  come out, and it suffices as a huge factor to make Blue Ruin everything but the usual. The unusual nature of his character, and knowing he’s in the thriller genre is so realistic and believable. The familial revenge story that gets formed in it is just concrete enough to support the family issues that gets stressed out in briskness. The climax violently depicts the truth in it, and the outcome is both visually extreme and gritty. As it plays with the violence, the atmosphere that it built gets shaken and flips the quietness of everything upside down. It gets chilling at a certain point as it stays true to its subject matters and most specially, how it amps up the volume of the violence.


From its enchanting photographs to the simple yet enticingly crafted narrative, Blue Ruin plays everything well by merging the thriller genre with ingenious indie artistry. It plays with its genre with a sense of artfulness, and it shows it in a way that renders itself as an impeccable work of art. The slowness of its pace lets you absorb whatever it wants you to consume, and it becomes a rewarding achievement from the art that it forms. Blue Ruin is a quiet and atmospheric, morally reflective revenge-thriller that suddenly grabs you with force. However, what really kept our interests high in regards to its forcibly-growing narrative is the enthralling subtlety of Blue Ruin as a whole.


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