Response Journal: Blue Ruin (2014)

Revenge is a dish best served… ineptly.

A bloody and suspenseful but ultimately disjointed revenge thriller, Blue Ruin chronicles the vendetta of a guileless vagrant who murders the parolee who wronged his family decades earlier. He then must withstand the retaliation from the dead man’s backwoods offspring. In the lead, Macon Blair gives a physically dexterous, semi-comical performance as a rampaging nitwit who leaves corpses behind more from ineptitude than intention. Alas, individual set pieces impress, though overall cohesion falters, and austerity is ditched on a whim, once tacit storytelling succumbs to obnoxious verbosity. Tonally scattered like buckshot, this viscera-splattered picaresque succeeds somewhat as an unconscious black comedy. Yet the solemn tragedy of interfamilial warfare director Jeremy Saulnier planned fails because he never bothers to humanize both belligerents. Thus the movie’s underlying morality play achieves little beyond vague audience’ bloodlust admonishment. Blue Ruin is no doubt borne of interesting ideas (notably the insinuation that the hero’s grudge originates more from bitter envy than any honorable code of justice). If only the fascinating fragments contributed to a sounder whole.

Costarring Amy Hargreaves and Eve Plumb (aka Jan Brady)

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