Revenge movies don’t always need to feature specially-trained professionals called to action when a loved one is kidnapped, or star the good-looking A-list up-and-comer who suddenly becomes a badass when their number is called.
2013’s Blue Ruin is a perfect example.
From the mind of Jeremy Saulnier—who was the writer, director and also the cinematographer of the film—Blue Ruin tells the tale of Dwight, (played brilliantly by Saulnier’s childhood friend Macon Blair) a seemingly-normal man turned reclusive vagrant by a terrible tragedy some years earlier. We don’t need expository dialogue to see the deep-seeded pain in Dwight’s soul; instead Blair is able to invoke a profound sadness and desperation with just his eyes.
When an old wound is re-opened via some unfortunate news, Dwight decides to venture on a quest for payback. But he is no stone-cold killer, he is a clumsy, unlucky, shell of a man just trying to earn some sort of reciprocation for the event that sent his life on this downward spiral.
When his quest for vigilante justice doesn’t go exactly as planned, his life continues to spin out of control as he grasps for a final solution.
The film is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. It is an expertly crafted piece of cinema. What makes it especially impressive is how Saulnier was able to make so much from so little. There was no major studio backing him, the funding for the film was a mix of Saulnier’s life-savings, donations from family and friends, and a Kickstarter campaign.
Blue Ruin is proof that what matters most isn’t what goes on behind the camera, but what you put in front of it.