starring Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack
written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier
by Walter Chaw Six years after his surprisingly poignant, unexpectedly deft, and, of course, funny debut Murder Party, multi-hyphenate Jeremy Saulnier (he writes, directs, and photographs his movies) returns with something very much like a genre masterpiece with Blue Ruin, the best Coen Bros. noir since they were making them. Grim in exactly the way that can be delightful, it's paced beautifully, written beautifully, and performed, that's right, beautifully. Saulnier's intelligent script is a model of restraint and a strong sense of humour. Macon Blair's reluctant avenging angel Dwight is someone I've never met before in a movie, and when Dwight seeks out old pal Ben (Devin Ratray) for help at some point, well, I'd never met him before, either. It's fair to say that nothing that happens in Blue Ruin happens the way I thought it would happen, if it happens at all. Note an early moment in the picture where Dwight sets up an ambush and doesn't pay it off, or that standard thing in movies now where the hero goes to a drugstore to pick up the supplies they need to perform self-surgery, which here ends with...that would be telling. All the requirements are there for a grand satire, it's true, yet Blue Ruin isn't that. Instead, it's a film that understands exactly what it is and what space it occupies, and at the end it's not merely an extraordinary character piece (Blair's turn would be star-making in a just universe), it's also a nimble thriller full of outrageous fortune and stunning reversals meted out perfectly between its breathless moments and the moments where it breathes.