Take a Drink: for urine
Take a Drink: for each jaw-dropping shot
Take a Drink: every time the protagonist fucks up
Take a Drink: every time he pulls some hobo shit
Do a Shot: for self-surgery
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
It seems like 2014 has featured plenty of decent films so far, but not many that you’d truly call great. The Grand Budapest Hotel certainly qualifies, and those who have seen Boyhood (including our own Mitch Hansch) swear by it, but after them Blue Ruin is the film I’ve most consistently seen show up on critics’ “Best of 2014 So Far” lists.
Blue Ruin is about a vagrant (Macon Blair) who sets out to kill the murderer of his father and mother when he learns that he’s being released from prison. This leads to a spiral of violence that he finds himself ill-equipped to handle.
Blue Ruin is indisputably one of the best shot and produced films of the year. Director Jeremy Saulnier (who also handles writing and cinematography duties) delivers one gorgeously realized image after another, a few of which I had to go back and watch again.
The sound design coupled with Brooke & Will Blair’s hauntingly minimalist soundtrack was also just about perfect. This is one finely made film, and all of its elements work together well to build tension and establish a palpable feeling of dread. The slow-burning plot enhances this by aggressively combating revenge movie tropes. Blair’s sadsack but determined protagonist learns firsthand how dirty and uncinematic killing for revenge really is, and his constant mistakes and their consequences undercut the avenging angel archetype that so many Hollywood films promote.
Sorry, Frank, you wouldn’t last a week.
Unfortunately, Blue Ruin is slow to a literal fault. It revels in taking its time when it doesn’t need to. When Blair waits, we wait.
Worse, though, is that Blue Ruin is thematically empty. Blair made his decision long ago, and any potential moral ambiguity surrounding it flies right out the window when the family he’s fighting turns out to be such transparently evil backwoodsy yokels.
Apparently, he raperoduced.
Blue Ruin may be a bit of an exercise in style over substance, but goddam, it has style.