Blue Ruin taught me that young filmmakers like myself can learn just as much from indie films as much as they can from big-budget classics. This 2013 thriller reminds us that you can still produce a film with great visuals and a gripping story, even without a $100 million budget or a diverse soundtrack. Described by MTV.com as “the perfect example of what crowdfunding can achieve”, this film may not appeal to all viewers, but it is still a great piece of independent filmmaking.
The story follows scavenger Dwight Evans, played by the film’s producer Macon Blair, on the hunt for the man who murdered his parents. Although the concept is not the most original I’ve encountered, the actual narrative of the film is nonetheless engaging, and demands the attention of the audience. The film borrows the suspenseful tonality from other acclaimed low-budget gems like Memento and No Country For Old Men, and presents us with a film that exhibits both familiarity and novelty in a canny fashion, reminding us that showing is always better than telling. I should also mention that the dialogue is absolutely minimal, exacerbating the tension already present, and highlighting writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s insightful approach towards story. Although it’s a common technique utilised by indie filmmakers, it’s a testament to the practical and astute nature of the filmmakers.
If there’s one thing I’ll remember Blue Ruin for, it’s the astoundingly gorgeous visuals achieved by Saulnier himself. From the very first shot, both the cinematography and lighting are absolutely flawless, and do what few films do - balance technicality with artistry. Moreover, the film exhibits a really clever colour coding system; the eponymous colour of blue is associated with Dwight, but as the story progresses, the shift to a murkier colour palette is a sign of the psychological change going on within Dwight.
Although Blair’s performance as Dwight did not impress me as much as those of the other cast members, I feel that this is a very small complaint. There’s no denying that Blue Ruin is a decorous movie, but it didn’t blow me away like other indie films have in the past, such as Whiplash, Reservoir Dogs or Memento. Indie filmmaking can be an acquired taste, and its sparse and stealthy style might not appeal to mainstream viewers. Despite these cracks in the armour, the film is nevertheless one that exerts authority with silence.
Rating - ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆