Don't be too quick to dismiss this indie gem.
Blue Ruin Film Review
Taut and unpredictable, this little Kickstarter-funded indie gem is a supremely stylish, moody and atypical thriller that belies its ultra-low-budget origins.Introducing us to a cast of unfamiliar faces, writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s sophomore directorial effort – after a three year hiatus working exclusively as cinematographer – is a surprisingly accomplished piece of work. It eschews all of the unwanted trappings of a more mainstream affair – like clichéd characters, predictable plots and painful exposition – in favour of refreshingly unusual storytelling and tense, razor-sharp direction.
The story follows the seemingly homeless Dwight, an equally seemingly harmless man who eats out of dumpsters, breaks into houses to have a bath every once in a while, and lives out of his broken down old car parked in the middle of nowhere. When the police pick him up one day, that all changes, however; something clicks in Dwight’s mind and he moves into action – to do something that he’s been planning for a very long time.Labelling Blue Ruin as an unconventional revenge thriller is an understatement; in a sub-genre already heavily overpopulated and simply flowing over with generic, clichéd work, Saulnier strikes out in an effort to deliver something different – and succeeds on every level. Even casting his best friend, the unknown Macon Blair, was a daring choice, but it pays off, with audiences unable to predict who these characters are, or what they are going to do next.
His tale is surprisingly authentic too, perhaps worryingly so, with characters that behave in a natural, genuine fashion, rather than merely springing forth from some contrived script. Whilst nowhere near as stylish as Refn’s Drive, or this year’s big surprise – The Guest – Blue Ruin does somehow manage to tread water in the same part of the pool, ticking the boxes in all the same places: stylish direction, unusual casting and strong performances, and a strong and deeply evocative score to underpin the whole thing. It’s an indisputable gem.
Blue Ruin Blu-ray Picture QualityBlue Ruin gets a surprisingly impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Although a relatively low budget affair, you’d be hard pushed to tell that from the presentation, which benefits from the high quality digital shoot, complete with a comparatively pristine image.
It may be a small scale movie, but it has been afforded a largely pleasing video presentation thanks to some quality digital cinematography.
Detail is strong throughout, well-defined even in the darkness-dominated shoot, which is shot as much at night as it is during the day. The colour scheme is only occasionally stylistically skewed – and only by lighting that comes as a part of the film itself – and we get natural skin tones, deep blood reds, authentic green/brown woodland shots and solid blacks. Close-ups bring clarity to faces and wounds, skin textures, unkempt hair, clothing weaves and background flourishes, with no obvious signs of any significant issues; sure there’s a hint of banding, and the image doesn’t have quite the pop that some might have preferred, but the very fact that it almost stands up alongside some considerably bigger budget heavyweight counterparts is an impressive feat in and of itself.
Blue Ruin Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is just as impressive (complete with a LPCM 2.0 alternative), particularly with its sublime score, which permeates the piece, proving powerfully evocative. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, dominating the fronts and centre channels where necessary, although it is far from a dominant presence in the movie, which relies far more on mood and atmosphere – and, of course, that aforementioned score.
An understated but powerful score underpins this whole moody affair.
Effects are well-represented, with bath taps and creaking doors, rattling cars and crinkling leaves all bringing the smaller flourishes to the fore in an authentic fashion, whilst thunderous gunshots crack out and echo across your living room. Perhaps not a huge amount of LFE presence, the score still brings it all together and rounds out this feature with, again, a surprisingly strong aural delivery considering the low budget origins.
Blue Ruin Blu-ray ExtrasA small but nice selection of extras adorns the disc, with a very interesting 18-minute look at the Making of Blue Ruin, complete with some delving into its origins, and lots of frank discussions about whether or not they ever thought it would get made, or be a success; a brief Camera Test sequence showing the footage that they used to sell the movie idea; and two short Deleted Scenes which don’t really add a great deal to the proceedings (although the first, I guess, explains a really minor plot point about tickets to a fairground ride). The only disappointment is that, yet again, the UK appear to have lost out to their US counterparts, with no sign here of the Audio Commentary – from the writer/director and his best friend, the film’s lead – which is really quite frustrating considering how this disc is otherwise identical.
Blue Ruin Blu-ray VerdictMissed by most, ignored by many, Blue Ruin has already wooed Cannes audiences and certainly deserves your attention. It may be a simple revenge thriller on paper, but a lack of exposition and conventional plotting, casting or scripting leave this a thoroughly unpredictable - and refreshingly so - affair that is well worth your time.
This indie gem comes highly recommended.
With excellent video and audio, it's only the lack of a commentary that disappoints when comparing this to its US counterpart. But for that, this would easily be its equal. Either way though, it's well worth picking up.
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