Will I ever get tired of talking about or recommending Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin (2013)? Not likely. I think it is one of the best films of this millennium and I think Macon Blair’s performance as Dwight, our wounded protagonist, is the best. The film upends every revenge thriller cliché in the book and is masterfully lean and elegant. I know elegant might be a strange word to use for a film in which a man gets a knife in the temple in a grubby roadhouse bathroom, but I stand by it. Saulnier’s approach as both director and cinematographer is to just give us exactly what is necessary. In a lesser filmmaker’s hands, that might result in frustration or flatness, but that is certainly not the case here. Dwight’s story is elliptical, yes, but the missing pieces are all there in Macon Blair’s face. It’s almost not fair to the audience to put us in this quandary of reconciling our discomfort with the fleeting satisfactions and ultimately fruitless destruction of revenge against how much we feel for the avenger. Don’t misunderstand, it’s no cheap manipulation. Every bit of it is earned. It’s just like the convoluted and intertwined family history at the center of the story – it’s complicated. The old, weird America persists, murder ballads continue to be written, and once in a great while, a film comes out of nowhere that is like a rare gift. Don’t miss it.
What you’ll find in this episode: how a bottle of ketchup can put your heart in your throat, sweet deals on surgery, the good guys winning, dominions, old and otherwise, and where you can send the windfall if you commit the perfect crime.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Blue Ruin on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Putty Hill.
Jeremy Saulnier explains exactly how this movie got made.
A rundown of noteworthy blood feuds in the United States.
Flannery O’Connor’s essay, Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction.
An episode of Firing Line in which William F. Buckley and guests discuss the Southern imagination.