The FILM IN WORDS Netflix Film of the Week: helping you navigate the filmic minefield of the nation’s favourite video streaming service.
Words: Brody Rossiter
Stripping away any and every sense of the overblown bad-to-the-bone bravado that often ripples throughout action centric revenge thrillers and their gruff leading men, Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin is visceral and relentlessly bleak passageway into loneliness, fear, and the brutalisation of both mind and body – taking a flagging old-fashioned premise and updating it with a distinctly organic sense of emotional weight.
Estranged from his family and home after what is implied to be a great personal tragedy, the extremely ragged and clearly homeless, Dwight – portrayed by the distinctly non-distinct newcomer Macon Blair – is forewarned of the imminent release of the criminal which instigated his descent into vagrancy and emotional inarticulacy – incapable of facing the daily reminders his former life.
With vengeance in mind, good guy Dwight journeys to the correctional facility from which said criminal, Wade Cleland, is being released. He watches Wade and his grim entourage exchange hugs and laughs outside the prison gates before following them and their white limo back to a bar. What happens next displays how one otherwise harmless man’s thirst for revenge can lead to some very bad things involving some equally bad people.
Many may situate this crowdfunded gem (Blue Ruin’s minimum Kickstarter stretch goal was $38,000) as a typically savage B-movie which chugs along on a diet of guns and grizzled showdowns – which ultimately are present – but its clear efforts to remain both tough and understated instantly establishes the picture as bold and uncompromising statement of intent from a fledgling director. Hints of black humour are present but the pictures sleek, dusky visuals revel in a bleak numbness and all-prevailing nihilism – primarily the inability for human beings to break a cycle of violence which can only lead to their downfall. Blue Ruin possesses distinctly indie origins but it constantly strives to exhibit that a simple premise can still pack a seriously refined and impactful punch. Losing all control never felt so good.