“That's how this works, man. The one with the gun gets to tell the truth.”
Audiences are very familiar with revenge films nowadays because it is a common theme in movies, but Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin is one of those rare ones that feels unique and different. Blue Ruin easily stands out from other conventional revenge flicks in many ways. First of all we aren’t given much background of what is going on in the story and as the action takes place we get some hints of what happened to the main protagonist. Second, the lead character played by Macon Blair (who had worked with Saulnier in his debut film, Murder Party) isn’t your typical hero. It’s evident this guy doesn’t know what he is doing and is an amateur. He makes so many mistakes that sometimes it becomes a bit funny. It also shows his humanity and allows us to identify and care for him. He is very different from other characters we see in this genre that are highly qualified for the task (think Denzel Washington in The Equalizer, or Keanu Reeves in John Wick, or any Charles Bronson film for that matter). Blair’s Dwight doesn’t really know what he is doing but he is determined to get revenge. He’s a normal guy who has been hurt by a traumatic event in his past. The film takes its time to buildup the character and the action. It is a quiet and toned down film so when the violent scenes arrive they shock you. I watched Blue Ruin immediately after Whiplash so it was a complete change of pace for me because this film is slow and quiet. It also differs from other revenge flicks in that we don’t see Dwight get a sense of satisfaction and his actions only complicate things more. Saulnier has managed to craft a unique revenge film which is more of a character study than anything else. He not only directed this film but he was also the writer and the cinematographer, so this is entirely his baby.
I didn’t know much about this film before going into it. I had heard some positive things in Letterboxd and in the filmsetting podcast I enjoy listening to. They actually gave this film the Golden Brick Award, which is an award they give to the films that they feel might be overlooked by most audiences and that deserve to be recognized. I’m glad I got a chance to see this film because it was quite a unique experience. Macon Blair delivers an outstanding lead performance and he should get offered more roles in the future. The film almost entirely revolves around his character and he is practically in every scene of the movie. He is what keeps us invested in the film during the quiet moments and the few lines he has are delivered perfectly in the film.