Jeremy Saulnier makes his long awaited return to the director’s chair with his thriller Blue Ruin, a straightforward classic tale of a revenge that takes a simple concept and turns it into pulse-pounding suspense. Sometimes keeping a story simple can go a very long way, and Saulnier’s thriller does just that. The film follows a homeless man whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance, leading to a brutal battle to protect his estranged family.
Blue Ruin is a prime example of less can be a whole hell of a lot more. And more often than not a script can drag down a film with too much meat and not enough bones. That’s not the case here as Saulnier’s thriller gets from point A to point B effortlessly, without dragging its story into meaningless territory. We’re never forced to learn anything about the characters that doesn’t drive the narrative forward, and it sure as hell never slows down. It’s exactly what a thriller is supposed to be—thrilling.
Dwight, as played by Macon Blair, is a very honest and real type of character that you instantly feel for from the start of the film. We see him meandering through life with not much else other than the dirty clothes on his back. Digging through the trash for food, living in his car and breaking into homes just to take a bath is the life Dwight lives. All that, however, gets turned on its head when the man who killed his parents gets released from prison, setting in motion a blood-soaked fight for revenge.
And it’s really as simple as that. Dwight, fueled by rage, will stop at nothing to carry out the task of murdering the people behind the death of his family. There’s not a whole lot of dialog in the film, as Dwight isn’t much of a man of words. His face tells us all we need to know with so much pain behind those eyes. He’s such a convincing character who’s driven by understandable rage, and it’s portrayed brilliantly by Blair.
I can’t imagine many people are going to walk away from this one disappointed. It’s simple cinema at its core with a heart-stopping tale that spills plenty of the red stuff. Fantastic directing, great acting and a story that will have you engaged from the opening frame, Blue Ruin is a thriller that delivers its promise and then some. Even though it took seven years, it’s nice to see Saulnier back at the helm of a feature film and hopefully we’ll be seeing plenty more from him sooner rather than later.