"Blue Ruin": Revenge Requires Investment

The leading man of Jeremy Saulnier's mesmerizing Blue Ruin is not the kind of actor who usually gets to anchor a motion picture, let alone a violent revenge picture, and that's part of what makes the movie work. We're introduced to Dwight (Macon Blair) as a bearded, dumpster-diving vagrant in Virginia who lives in a blue Pontiac that's seen better days. When he learns that a certain somebody has been released from jail, Dwight proceeds to stalk and murder that somebody (this in the first 15 minutes, and not a spoiler), after which Dwight showers and shaves. Under the crustiness, he's a regular, nebbishy-looking guy, the kind who favors khakis and tucked-in shirts; this is the Dwight we spend the majority of the picture with, as he struggles with the escalating violence his actions begat, and we wouldn't care so much if he was, say, a Channing Tatum-esque alpha male. Blue Ruin takes its time revealing exactly why Dwight did what he did, and like a good Elmore Leonard tale, the backstory isn't as important as the mood and characters. Though all is revealed in the end, Macon Blair's big, haunted eyes tell us everything we need to know.

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