“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."
That line by Confucius perfectly encapsulates the indie Crime-Thriller ‘Blue Ruin’. Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier after raising funds for it on Kickstarter, Blue Ruin was a great surprise. It has more in common with old school revenge films like Death Wish than modern action movies, which is also what makes it so good. This movie has some of the most tense scenes that I can recall since seeing the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men’. If Blue Ruin is any indication, I think Jeremy Saulnier is going to have a long career making some great flicks.
Blue Ruin begins following Dwight, a homeless man living out of his car along the beachfront. The movie really makes you feel for Dwight, as he digs for food in the trashcan and sleeps in his old blue Bonneville. The first sign that something is off here comes when we see that his car is riddled with bullet holes. Soon after, a nice police officer that he knows comes to give him some bad news. The man who killed his parents is being released from jail. The movie doesn’t tell us all the details from the beginning, which is why it’s so refreshing. It takes awhile to piece together all the parts of what happened to Dwight.
Upon hearing this news, he gets the battery back into his car, gasses up, and drives away from his beachfront parking spot. Dwight’s first stop is to get a gun, but he doesn’t have enough money, so he steals one from a truck. Just his luck, the gun also happens to have a lock on it, so he makes do with a knife, as he goes to await the man being released from there. That’s about all I’ll say without spoiling the twists and turns of the plot, but Dwight makes some decisions that quickly put him in over his head, as the man being released is part of a violent family gang. Things get bloody, people die, and revenge gets got.
Some of the best parts of Blue Ruin come from the sheer relatability of Dwight. This is a guy who’s lost just about everything, and will give everything to get his retribution. Dwight is what you or I would look like if we ever tried to take revenge on someone for hurting our loved ones. He’s sloppy at it, and obvious amateur, and he gets hurt more than once for it. His drive to do what he feels he must is also the best part about him, as once he gets his estranged sister out of the picture, he’s willing to give everything left to put things right.
I found out after watching Blue Ruin that the writer-director raised all the money for it on Kickstarter, and I love that. To think that without the service, this movie may not have been made is a bummer, but thankfully Kickstarter is around for reasons exactly like this. I’ve gone back and forth on certain crowd-funded projects that may or may not deserve the crowd-funding, but Blue Ruin is the epitome of why those services should exist. It’s a massive accomplishment to be able to give artists that have a vision, but not necessarily a stocked bank account, the tools and money to be able to create what they want. I think as long as projects like Blue ruin, or games like FTL and Broken Age are the output, I’ll throw money at them all day long.
To wrap things up, Blue Ruin is a movie I highly recommend. If you loved No Country, or enjoy old school, violent revenge movies, it’s probably your cup of tea. I’m excited for the future of movies a little more after seeing it, because I think crowd-funding great movies like this can help balance out all of the huge budget blockbuster stuff coming to theaters. Not that I don’t love many of those huge movies, I really do, but it’s always nice watching a great, quiet, character driven movie also. After all, Kickstarter might very well end up kickstarting the career of the next Steven Spielberg.