Friday, 13 June 2014

Blue Ruin.

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of the evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brothers keeper and the finder of lost children, And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the lord when I lay my vengeance upon you[1]

Rarely have I seen a movie that  so clearly shows why the American pro gun lobby are so wrong!
Macon Blair as Dwight.
Rejected by the selectors at Sundance before its successful premier at the Cannes film Festival, Blue Ruin (2013) is a refreshing new slant on the revenge genre. Director and writer Jeremy Saulnier has presented us with a non dialogue driven movie which he describes as a horror, a character piece, an adventure and a tragedy, which to a certain extent adds up to a modern day road movie were a bullet ridden Pontiac Bonneville (the blue ruin of the title) and its understated homeless owner take centre stage. When we meet Dwight he is living rough in the car, sleeping on its back seat and scrounging for food in waste bins. He is a man that bears a canny resemblance to what we used to call a tramp with his unkempt appearance, his long scraggy beard and uncut hair. Never speaking, we assume this loner has history and its when a friendly female police officer asked Dwight to accompany her to the local Delaware police station that we find out that Dwight’s parents have been murdered and that the man convicted of killing them is being given an early release. This news sparks him out of his lethargic life style and puts him on a course of action that will not only threaten his well being but the life of his sister and her family.
What a difference a day makes?
The film has a lead actor that is new to me, Jeremy Saulnier’s childhood friend Macon Blair has been deliberately miscast as Dwight the unconventional killer who is more likely to hurt him self rather than the bad guys. Amy Hargreaves, seen mainly on American TV, plays Dwight’s sister Sam with scene stealing Devin Ratray (Nebraska 2013) as Dwight’s old gun toting buddy Ben Gaffney. It’s a cast that goes a long way to making us believe what we are witnessing and Saulnier’s up close and intrusive camera work supports this, giving us a look into the mind of a man deeply affected by a grave personnel tragedy.   
Amy Hargreaves as Sam.
Saulnier’s second feature film as director, writer and cinematographer following his debut 2007 comedy/horror movie Murder Party, incidentally he was also the DOP on Putty Hill (2010), brings to mind the style and feel of Ben Wheatley’s Kill List (2011) and Sightseers (2012). A truly brilliant independent movie that admittedly did not attract a large audience for the two nights it was playing at my local cinema but the screening I saw certainly made the audience sit up and take notice. The director proved confidence in his judgement by mortgaging his family home to raise the finance for the film and with additional help though the crowd funding platform Kickstarter has made a low budget gem that I am convinced in years to come will become a cult classic.

[1] Ezekiel 25:17 as quoted by Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction (1994)

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