This blog can’t claim to be a particular follower of trends, but even my attention hasn’t entirely been bypassed by the rise of crowdsourcing for film projects. There was the much ballyhooed Veronica Mars film, of course (one for the existing fans, I expect, which is why I gave it a miss), while just earlier this year, there was the release of documentary The Punk Singer. Now we have this, which premiered as far back as last year’s Sundance and finally gets its UK release, and is not particularly niche interest like the other two I’ve mentioned. Then again, my understanding is that it wasn’t entirely funded via Kickstarter, but that gaps were plugged to ensure it was finally made. However, happily, it doesn’t seem as if any unfortunate creative compromises were required, and what has resulted is a taut and enjoyable little thriller. What’s compelling about it is not any formal innovation or challenge to the revenge thriller genre — it very much works within familiar frameworks — but in the straightforward delights that are to be had in the way it slowly unfolds the setting and the protagonist’s backstory, and the subtlety and control in the acting performances. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, suffice to say that as it opens, our hero (or is he?) is living in his car and has clearly not availed himself of any personal hygiene in quite some time. In his beaten-up car, he follows a man being released from prison to a local bar and there attacks him. How things develop from there are for the viewer to learn, but you may take solace that there’s nothing gratuitously moronic or torture-porn-sadistic involved. Script aside, I’ve also mentioned the acting, from a cast primarily unknown to me, but who do well in these roles. As the protagonist Dwight, Macon Blair is onscreen for pretty much the entire film, and has to bring emphathy and pathos to an almost catatonically mumbling character, but he does this very well, without the annoying tics that you might expect with this kind of character. Being so unknown to film audiences, the supporting cast too — including Amy Hargreaves as Dwight’s sister Sam, and Devin Ratray as his metal-loving school friend Ben — completely inhabit their roles and are believable foils to Dwight’s bloody-mindedness. In all, Blue Ruin is a nicely-made and satisfying thriller, and a credit to its clearly very committed cast and crew.
Director/Writer/Cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier; Starring Macon Blair, Amy Hargreaves, Devin Ratray; Length 90 minutes.
Seen at Cineworld Haymarket, London, Tuesday 20 May 2014.