Blue Ruin

Step right up, fans of Blood Simple! Whenever I revisit the Coens’ debut (which is often) I always wonder why it hasn’t served as inspiration for more young independent filmmakers. Finally, someone had a similar thought and went and made a terrific slow-burn revenge film called Blue Ruin.

This is a gorgeously moody crime thriller about a hapless guy who gets in way over his head in a game of revenge and murder. I love how the story unfolds visually, adding new layers and characters step by bloody step. Written, directed, and shot by Jeremy Saulnier, and starring the big-eyed soulful gaze of Macon Blair, the film was a hit at Sundance and Cannes and now it’s available on demand. It’s very well done and highly recommended.

I liked a lot about this – I’m particularly glad you called out Macon Blair – but I think it’s ultimately a bit slight. I also recommend it, but it falls far short of belonging alongside Blood Simple.

I couldn’t tell if the title was a reference to the car, but it should be. My second favorite performance after Blair was that car. :)


True, it’s no Blood Simple, but what is? Just the fact that it makes repeated allusions to that film was enough to thrill me. I was impressed by the way the movie took small bites and chewed them thoroughly.

Oh, and Devin Ratray as Ben was another casting highlight. He gave the movie a nice jolt of energy when he stepped in.

I thought the title meant the car and the character. You’re right… great car.

I can’t see the title of that film without thinking of an alcoholic beverage called Blue Ruin in one of Jack Vance’s s-f stories.

Ah, good on you for calling out Devin Ratray as well. I recognized him from Nebraska, where he played a dumb bully. Basically, super obvious casting and one of the reasons I didn’t like Nebraska. So it was really cool that he was cast in Blue Ruin as a completely competent and compassionate character. I loved all his scenes and wish there had been more.

Look at you, rrmorton, bringing me around on Blue Ruin while I’m trying to be the jaded cynical “waah, it’s not as good as Blood Simple” movie watcher. :)


Yeah, competent and compassionate and you don’t typically find that sort of hobbyist treated as such a sympathetic character in movies.

Loved this little moment…

No joke, first time I read the movie’s title I though it was going to be a documentary about Detroit.

Anybody know if it is going to have a wide release? It looks really interesting.

Video on demand is a pretty wide release. :)


haha fair point. I guess I should have clarified and said wide theater release. I just really like watching movies at theaters. Huge screen, surround sound, wildly overpriced popcorn and soda, and that bar right in the front next to the handicap seats that I get to rest my feet on.

So I watched it. Hot diggity! I liked it a lot, and for basically all the same reasons you gentlemen already stated. Now I need to find some place where I can watch Blood Simple.

The year is still pretty young, but I’m willing to bet this will be in my top ten list.

FYI this is on Netflix now. I walked into this blind as I had never heard of it, but watched it because it had 4 1/2 stars on Netflix. I’m glad I did. Excellent micro-budget film. I really liked the score, how it ratcheted up the tension appropriately without going overboard, and knew when to be absent.

I think my favorite scene was when the timer of the light goes off and his reaction to it. Though the camerawork in the initial revenge was superb, following the main character around while really focusing on his face and the quick shifting thoughts he was having.

My favorite scene is when he’s drinking water in the kitchen, but of course I didn’t know that was my favorite scene until the next scene.

The great thing about this movie is that there are a lot of great scenes like that, and it’s all done with Macon Blair’s incredibly tense and downplayed performance. I think another one of my favorite little bits is the first time we see him without a beard. His non-Brad Pitt jawline is revealed and it softens him somehow. Though you don’t really know anything about him at that point in the movie, later on the way he mumbles through dialog and downcasts his eyes makes him an unlikely, but far more interesting protagonist. He’s no swagger, no style, all grim business. He’s the Anti-Drive protagonist, who needed a weird jacket to make his character stand out.

I like the term “Anti-Drive protagonist”, but I wouldn’t try to draw any kind of parallel between the two characters in light of that. They’re intended to be very, very different.

I have to be honest, I hated Drive. That movie was a huge letdown or me. I didn’t care for Ryan Gosling and I can’t think of a memorable acting scene in that movie. Most memorable scene was when Albert Brooks kills the guy in the garage, that’s about the only good scene in the movie and it’s more for what happens, not the acting.

The contrast between beardy Blair and non-bearded Blair is staggering.

My favorite scene…

After he got shot in the leg with an arrow and he went to the local pharmacy to buy some first aid supplies. He hands the guy behind the counter bloody money and when the guy looks at him he just looks back and say, “I uh… I just uh… Yup.” and walks away. I lose it there, every time.

And the scene immediately following is probably my least favorite.

Just a minor procedural note that you might already know:

Those stars are Netflix’s predictive algorithm as to whether you’d like the movie, not necessarily a reflection of what other people thought. The idea is that Netflix thinks you would give it 4 1/2 stars.


Oh thank god. I was worried I’d watched and gave 4 stars to Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead at some point in my life.

That explains a lot actually. I didn’t know it bumped up (and likely down) star ratings. That makes the rating way less useful.