Blue Ruin

Blue Ruin is the most confidently made film I've seen in years. It is a film made by someone who has a preternatural feel for the medium. A rounded, complete understanding of the way a film is created, each piece a purposeful decision with no lull or weakness.

The budding auteur here is Jeremy Saulnier who comes to the film with a background mostly as a cinematographer, working on a bunch of low key and respected indies over the years, a background that lays a strong visual foundation for Blue Ruin but by no means acts as a crutch. His visuals are strong but not overpowering. They don't fade into the background as scenery either, they are a full presence that tell the story alongside the actors, almost like another character.

There are similarities in setting to the confused rural America of rusted cars and easily accessible guns, a sort of Cormac McCarthy vibe of dirtied blood and the empty spaces of thought between action, but the film seems to create its own universe. Each perfect detail unfolds, the momentum building slowly, every line an important conveyor of information.  Blue Ruin is so contained and expertly designed that it feels like another possible world, or like the tale of a complex parallel world that exists in the neighboring house. Each scene, each detail, stacks upon one another so precisely but on such a precarious edge that it constantly borders on collapse, keeping us voyeurs wholly, almost sickly, engrossed.

The story?  It is a hazy, bold psychological revenge thriller with a tinge of unsettling dead pan comedy. But to try to simply relate the film's narrative would be to disregard the intricacy of the film's formation and the incredible acting that tells it.The controlled understatement of skill behind the camera extends in front of the camera too as Macon Blair carries almost the entire film with acting that surpasses acting. Moody, brooding, claustrophobic psychological interiors with a flat, dark humor that smoothly glide across the planes of the film. Blair's depth, range, and complex understanding of Saulnier's vision makes him seem to exist as opposed to act.

The journey the filmmaker went on to make this film, discussed in great detail over here, is a reminder that if something needs to be made, if someone has a new creative voice to share, it will find a way to be heard. This film was the hardest film I have ever tried to write about. But that's because it's not a film. It is a beautiful, fresh, entertaining new perspective of visual storytelling that is simultaneously elegant, bloody, emotional, terrifying, and heartfelt. It is more of a living being than in it is film.



Donna K. lives in the Midwest and on the internet. Mostly she writes about her interest in the offline world.