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'Blue Ruin' review: A beautifully hollow thriller

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Blue Ruin

Rating:
Star3
Star
Star
Star
Star

"Blue Ruin" began playing at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park movie theater here in Houston starting today.

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A beach bum named Dwight (Macon Blair) seems to have a simple life in the opening of "Blue Ruin." He sleeps in a rusted out car by the beach, digs in the trash for food, and breaks into people's homes to take baths when they're not home. But Dwight is given some life-changing news when he's taken into the police station; Wade, the man who killed his parents, is being released from prison.

Dwight drops what little scraps of a life he has and hightails it to Virginia where Wade is being released. Dwight stalks Wade and follows him until he's finally able to execute his revenge. Unfortunately for Dwight, he doesn't think things through until it's too late. Now Dwight has a war on his hands with Wade's family that targets everyone and everything Dwight has ever held dear.

While the events in "Blue Ruin" are fairly unpredictable, you don't find yourself attached to any of the characters and don't have any investment over the consequences of anyone's actions in the film. Dwight's journey is filled with uncertainty and his mumbling ways are justified, but him saying so little and being so emotionally withdrawn only makes his character seem about as interesting as a dingy wash cloth.

Dwight's encounter in the restroom near the beginning of the film is violently intense and similar to something straight out of "No Country for Old Men." And while it's somewhat expected, there's a rather gruesome headshot in the second half of the film that pushes things in Dwight's favor when he needs it the most. Dwight's leg wound struggle is almost comedic at times in between the grisly moments when you feel yourself cringing harder than you have at anything released in theaters so far this year.

The thriller has a gritty and grungy atmosphere that matches Dwight's disheveled physical appearance. It's something that the film fully embraces as this grimy world is still living and breathing during the very last frame. "White trash" seems too harsh of a phrase to describe it, but these are greasy individuals who are always down on their luck and living in the filthy underbelly of what would otherwise be considered "scary" neighborhoods.

Much like Scott Cooper's "Out of the Furnace," "Blue Ruin" has a lot of potential but fails to follow up on it. Jeremy Saulnier constructs a stimulating tale of revenge with beautiful cinematography, but the climax falls short of living up to the film's slow burn storytelling and regretfully none of the performances are very noteworthy. "Blue Ruin" is an extremely polished revenge thriller, but it's been buffed so much that it begins to dull in the areas that should be more striking.

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