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SFF’14 Movie Review: “Blue Ruin”

January 31, 2014

Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 7.27.14 PMSaved the best for last, for it is “Blue Ruin” that has taken my #1 slot for favorite movie I’ve seen at the Sundance Film Festival. Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier brilliantly crafts a revenge thriller that’s unlike any of the Charles Bronson, Stallone, or even Steven Segal revenge flicks we’ve seen before. “Blue Ruin” is certainly in a league of it’s own.

Dwight (Macon Blair) is a mysterious bearded outsider when we first meet him. His hypnotic journey leads himself down a rabbit hole of vengeance, as he plans to take the life of the man who murdered his parents. However, Dwight is an amateur assassin, at best, his biggest problem is leaving tracks behind for the family of the convicted murder to follow. Dwight winds up in a brutal fight to protect his own estranged family leading to a blood bath of a finale not even he could have anticipated.

Let me first start with a special Sundance story; I’m at the volunteer premiere screening for this film, not even a third of the way into the film, everything was abruptly halted as the top rafters collapsed. Nobody was injured, but it put a damper on the evening as the film was canceled. Saulnier was there; it was upsetting to say the least. So, lucky me, my first shift at the MARC Theater the following day was hosting the festival premiere screening of the film. I begged and pleaded to my theater manager to put me out as a top house usher. Wish granted! Thanks Ron! Jeremy Saulnier introduces the movie, but first asks if there were any volunteers working at this moment in time who attended last nights screening. Many of us, including myself raised our hands, to his response, ‘Ok, lets hope we can finish this thing’

And finished it I did! The tension was palpable, the movie was making my job extremely easy that day, nobody had to get up from there seats to use the bathroom or make a phone call, so I didn’t have to stand and direct with a flashlight. My attention was completely eyes locked on the screen…shhh don’t tell HQ. Saulnier’s film was a unique piece, in many ways I found myself connected to the movie because it had this sort of dark-Coen Brothers vibe, kind of like “No Country for Old Men”. The violence is brutal, no question, but sprinkled throughout is the spice of this dark, black comedy in [Macon] Blair’s performance as Dwight.

Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 7.27.47 PMThere’s this innocence to Dwight, even though we’ve witnessed him commit some harsh crimes all on his own, we can still empathize, because he shows genuine care, and heartbreak. Macon’s performance is the shining light of the film, without him, I don’t think many could continue along for the ride this film was taking us on. And believe you me; this film goes on a doozy escape of violent ventures.

The best part however, is the ending, in my opinion it says everything about the revenge genre all in itself. I’m not going to say what happens, but it leaves you holding your breath, then questioning what true morality is. When a movie does something like ‘that’, you know it’s doing the job of brilliant storytelling right. My favorite movie of Sundance is also in line to be in my end of the year Lucky 13 Best Films of 2014. Do NOT miss this movie! I beg of you, see it when you can [which is in April].

GRADE: A

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