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3.9 out of 5 stars
Blue Ruin [DVD]
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2014
In a stunning, practically wordless, opening thirty minutes, we watch Dwight (Macon Blair) living out of his car, scrabbling through bins and washing in strangers' bathrooms. Like Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas, here's a perfect example of how to engage the audience's attention from the word go; we needn't be slapped round the chops, just intrigued. Writer-director-cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier uses the visual medium to encourage us to ask challenging questions: Who is this wretched guy and what happened to him? Who is he watching as they're released from prison? And why is he buying a gun?

The power of the film, particularly its early scenes, lies in knowing nothing. So I won't run through the plot, except to say this is a dark, violent, black-comic revenge thriller, set in an overcast Virginia, whose comparisons to the work of the Coen brothers - particularly Blood Simple and Fargo - are entirely justified. There's also much in common with No Country for Old Men, in terms of Saulnier's attention to detail maximising the tension during some extended, dialogue-free setpieces.

And this is a film all about tension - not just in the scenes where Dwight is hunting his prey, but also in his character: he exists, almost zombified, in the borderland between sanity and insanity. Resourceful, ambivalent, and often decent (after a shootout at his sister's house he returns the next day to cover a broken window), Dwight is no dribbling mad monster. That would be too easy a caricature. Instead, we're watching the creation of a killer, from impossible grief to automation. The "blue ruin" of the title ostensibly refers to Dwight's rusty blue Pontiac, although it could also refer to the corrosive nature of his unkempt depressive state.

Macon Blair has the schlubby appeal of Paul Giamatti, and a similar ability to engage our attention through the subtlety of his performance. When so little is said aloud, it's all about the eyes. He does share a couple of excellent dialogue scenes, too - the best being a roadside diner conversation with his sister, played by Amy Hargreaves, which is a masterclass in acting shared pain.

Blue Ruin doesn't quite carry the brilliance of its opening act through to the end. Rather than descending into some memorable unusual darkness, Saulnier ascends to melodrama and bellowing. It works on a narrative level, but tonally and stylistically it seems like a waste, at the final stretch, to dispense with the genuinely unexpected turns of everything that led up to it. But perhaps we've simply been spoiled - this is expert filmmaking, which can take its place alongside other recent Southern nightmares such as Killer Joe and The Paperboy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2014
With so many huge blockbuster movies already being released in preparation for summer, we often forget about some of the more tense and enthralling stories that are being released on a smaller scale. In this new age where technology is everywhere we turn and movies are at our disposal at all times, most companies have wised up and begun releasing films through platforms like Itunes, Vudu, and Video On Demand. One of the most recent flicks that caught my eye, already picking up steam at this year's Cannes Film Festival, is the riveting new revenge-thriller `Blue Ruin'.

Starring newcomer Macon Blair, it follows a mysterious beach bum who's quiet life is quickly turned upside down by dreadful news. Setting off for his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance, we see his emotional transformation as he winds up in a ruthless fight to protect his estranged family.

Trust me, as vague as that plot description was, it's the way you should enter the film. With surprises and shocking moments at every corner, you will certainly be glad that it wasn't spoiled. Spellbinding from beginning to end, `Ruin' is unlike any other film you will see all year, and it may be the best. Blair delivers an astounding performance, inhabiting the character at all times, and never letting up for a second.

Do yourself a favor and check this film out, you won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a revenge driven movie.
'Dwight Evans'(Macon Blair) is a drifter scraping a living anyway he can, his home, a
'seen-better-days car, he'd left his family behind some while back.
When seeing that the man who he believed killed his parents was about to be released from
jail, he heads back to Virginia where he had spent his childhood, he has no real plan, but
his intention is revenge upon 'Wade Cleland' which after a brief struggle he achieves.
In truth, 'Dwight' is an amateur when it comes to being an Assassin, he's not thought beyond
that moment of revenge, 'Wade' has a family which includes brothers 'Teddy' and 'Carl' not
to mention other family members, all equally determined to avenge 'Wades' death.
'Dwight' has become the hunted, his estranged family also in danger, after an encounter with
the 'Cleland's' he realizes that he needs help.
'Dwight' seeks out an old school-friend for help, 'Ben' proves to be the friend he needed.
'Dwight's' only plan of course is to get the 'Cleland's' before they get him or, and his family.
There certainly are one or two sequences that'l make you cringe some.
It's an engaging film that should hold your attention throughout.
Good Picture and Sound Quality.
Features -
* Behind the scenes featurette.
* Deleted Scenes
* Camera Test Film
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Dwight (Macon Blair) lives in a blue rust bucket vehicle as an unkempt homeless person, living out of dumpsters, petty thievery, and an occasional home break-in. He is our antagonist/protagonist in a different sort of crime drama. It seems Dwight's has not been able to move on after Wade Cleland shot and killed his parents.

Upon finding out that Wade has been released from prison, this sets off an odd family feud with a minor twist of past events.

Macon Blair played an interesting, yet unexciting Dwight. The story line is different from the typical formula which is what makes the film interesting. However, there were numerous boring scenes like Dwight being informed, eating a sandwich with his sister, or walking along the beach. How about a flashback scene to make Dwight's current life seem realistic?

Parental Guide: F-bomb. No sex or nudity. 3 1/2 stars
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2014
Dwight's (Macon Blair) reclusive. His hair is wild, his beard is long, he looks as cool as a 60s hippy. He's running away from the past and living it rough, eating out of garbage bins, sleeping in a rusty-old car, bathing in the homes of people who are absent, stealing to exist. When a kindly policewoman (Sidné Anderson) advises him that a double-murderer is being let out of prison early, Dwight is clearly disturbed. So disturbed he cuts of all his hair, shaves off his beard, changes his clothes, and looks like a dork. He heads back to where his family live but on the way takes ill-conceived revenge against the killer, starting up a whole lot more trouble in the process.

Blue Ruin (2013) is very different to any other revenge movie I ever recall seeing. Someone compared it to No Country for Old Men (2007) but it's hardly that, not by any stretch of the imagination. All the same, many of the scenes are violent, gruesome, and grisly. Macon Blair plays the role of hapless Dwight (who seems to have great powers of recuperation) to perfection as he bungles his way along on his mission impossible but gets by with a little help from a friend--super cool Ben (Devin Ratray). Another title for the movie could be 'Mr Bean Takes Revenge' as I could not help but laugh at some of the events and the dark humour must certainly have been intentional in this unusual revenge thriller with a most unusual avenger. In fact, it's one of the best movies I have seen for quite a long time.

Another thing that is different about this movie is that it is low on detail from the start but feeds the information along the way. We do get to know who is who and what had happened, eventually.

VJ - Movies and Books World
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on 21 February 2015
One of the strongest achievements in recent years in independent cinema is "Blue Ruin". It's brilliantly written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier who just a few years ago was making his own amateur monster movies with his friends, some of whom were involved in this inspired revenge thriller that is the antithesis of the usual commercial revenge thriller.

Shot on a less-than-shoestring budget, it stars Macon Blair (best friend of Saulnier since childhood) as Dwight, an apparent homeless drifter housing a grudge against a convict about to be released from prison whom he feels had murdered his parents. Dwight is obviously unaccustomed to violence (he's never fired a gun) and, as in the best of the Noir classics, makes one bad decision that plunges him way over his head into a harrowing murder plot that'll keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

What makes this film so unique is how its suspense comes from slow, quiet inexorable tension punctuated with a few acts of violence that seem authentic, bearing none of the sensationalism or tired clichés one gets in garbage like "Taken" and its tiresome ilk. The triumph of "Blue Ruin" is even greater when one realizes that its director used his own family house and his family car making it, and managed such a height of verisimilitude by using cinema in its purest form. Here an 'amateur' outdoes the Hollywood pros in making a superb virtually perfect thriller that won't easily be forgotten.
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on 14 February 2015
Isn’t it inspiring to see two young hopefuls manage to get their boyhood dreams realised into an acclaimed and award-winning film, against seemingly insurmountable odds? ‘Blue Ruin’ also is persuasive proof that Kickstarter is beginning to exert a significant impact on the diversity and therefore the quality of cinema in the digital age. Restraints of a meagre budget almost always seem to bring the best out of filmmakers, primarily because the limited resources compel them to try something different. Secondly, the artists get the necessary freedom to achieve their vision, without studio moguls and financiers breathing down their necks, usually spoiling the soup.

The adjective ‘atmospheric’ does not go far enough to describe the visual richness of this movie. It is said that a single, well composed frame can tell a lot more than a hundred worlds in dialogue, for cinema at its best is a visual medium. What sets ‘Blue Ruin’ apart from the many, similar crime thrillers is its refreshing narrative style, that creates palpable suspense through imagery rather than dialogue. There are notable occasions where conversations fade out mid-sentence, to heighten the emotional turmoil the protagonist is in. Here is a unique concept that the writer, cinematographer and director Jeremy Saulnier deploys and sustains throughout the movie. It is largely aided by his smooth and elegant photography, which only rarely uses handheld capture and is always beautifully composed. This vision comes to its own in the short film he made for the Kickstarter appeal, an excellent example of how a single, underpinning idea is the best starting point for a movie. Add the unadulterated, melancholic and hapless presence of Macon Blair in his début performance as Dwight, the film transforms to something much more than an excuse for violence, a distinctive human drama, with its heart in the right place. The supporting cast of largely unknown actors are also a joy to watch.

Those who compare this film to Hitchcock’s thrillers are forgetting one salient point: almost all his work were verbose in dialogue and are too irritating to watch now because of overacting, a flaw common in early cinema as a result of actors having to shout to get recorded well enough. I agree that the narrative style of ‘Blue Ruin’ has its roots in the classic thriller, but it is a fresh and contemporary take on the genre.

Having said all that, is ’Blue Ruin’ worth watching again? Perhaps for students of cinema, but not for me!
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Jeremy Saulnier’s edgy revenge thriller laudably avoids the usual Hollywood clichés and in Macon Blair’s loser Dwight presents a pleasingly realistic weak and cowardly anti-hero. The film opens with a bedraggled and seemingly homeless Dwight living out of a battered Pontiac – the ‘blue ruin’ of the title, on an abandoned car-lot, and scavenging through dumpsters for discarded scraps of food. This seemingly peaceful lifestyle is brutally interrupted when a police officer brings Dwight some devastating news, and the film immediately changes to a clumsy revenge thriller, as Dwight returns home to Virginia in order to confront demons from his past.
A lean and sparsely-plotted slice of potentially cult cinema, Blue Ruin follows the same grubby path as the likes of Andrew Dominik’s 2012 neo-noir effort Killing Them Softly, with its unashamedly weak protagonist and clumsy, yet violently unstable criminals. Blair’s performance is reminiscent of that of Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis; understated but essential to the successful telling of the story. Able support is provided by Devin Ratray (recognisable to the eagle-eyed as thuggish Buzz Mcallister from Home Alone no less!) as Dwight’s old school pal Ben Gaffney, who comes to his aid in spectacular fashion, whilst Amy Hargreaves play’s Dwight’s long-suffering sister Sam.
Made for a paltry $38,000, this is the kind of film that shows the industry is prepared to take risks, and its critical commercial success will hopefully encourage more of the same.
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VINE VOICEon 11 May 2014
Blue Ruin grabs all the elements of what makes an outstandingly good cinematic experience by the scruff of the neck and the result is superb. Jeremy Saulnier, the writer and director, (virtually unknown) essentially is putting on a master class here, and it is a dandy. For those of us who may, over time, have forgotten that a great many diverse elements go into a feature film, and that it is entirely possibly produce spellbinding entertainment by merely getting SOME of these elements right, not necessarily all of them at once.

In Blue Ruin, leaving aside the odd storyline (something about an illicit love affair which goes horribly, horribly, wrong and develops consequences); and leaving aside the lack of "Hollywood" star power (which, in truth, you will not miss at all), this film soars to the heights based on 3 simple things: a script so tight that it squeaks, in fact there is barely any dialog at all in the first 20 minutes but your eyes will be glued to the screen nonetheless; cinematography that captures the slightest nuance, from the blinking light of an answering machine to a hi-velocity long-distance bullet smashing a skull just a second after you hear the shot; and direction so perfect (as I said) that, if the credits said "Coen Brothers," you would have no trouble believing it.

This film is a treat to be savored. History might well record that Blue Ruin was the beginning of a trend, perhaps even the "nextgen" of filmmaking, it really is that special.

If you only buy one DVD or Blu Ray this year, this should be it.
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on 24 July 2015
Blue Ruin introduces us to Dwight (Macon Blair), a homeless man who lives in a car near a beach. He spends his days scrounging for food at the nearby boardwalk. One day, he is visited by a police officer, who tells him that Wade Cleland is being released from prison. Upon learning of this, Dwight drives to the prison and then follows the Cleland family to a restaurant where they are celebrating Wade's release. After causing a scene there, Dwight cleans himself up and then visits his sister, Sam (Amy Hargreaves), to ensure that she is OK and to warn her that the Cleland's may be coming after her. Following this, Dwight decides to wage a one-man war on the Clelands, with the help of an old friend, Ben (Devin Ratray). As Dwight embarks on his mission, we learn what Wade did and how it effected Dwight's life. This is a well shot (some creative use of visual techniques and shot selections in this film), well written, engaging film that draws you in and keeps you watching right to the very end, the level of suspense and tension was great despite the fact that it deliberately takes its time in various places. The cast is outstanding led by Macon Blair and Devin Ratray as a High School friend. This is a highly recommended revenge/thriller film that is a refreshing find and an example that all it takes to make a good movie is determination and talent.
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