♫Blue Ruin♫. . .You saw me standing alone. . .Without a dream in my heart. . .Without a love of my own. . .
That's the song, right?. . .oh! Blue Moon! Dangit!!!
Enough about Moons, let's talk about hobos. Yeah. . . That's my transition. . . Anyway. . . A hobo is looking for revenge (quick movie title idea: "Revenge of the Hobos!" Now that is the type of title for a movie I would endorse!). After a convict who brutally killed a couple is released out of prison a vengeful hobo, or homeless person depending on how politically correct you want to be, named Dwight tries to track him down. This is his story as it chronicles his epic adventure of revenge in a very grounded, transparently believable form of expression. There is not much more that I can say than that, because $#!+ hits the fan in such a way that propel plot points in the film that I could easily spoil the rest of the movie for you.
Spoilers aside, where this film most excels is in portraying a gritty realism. Everything feels authentic, as if you are witnessing real life events in the happening. Sure, there is an element of this in every movie, but this feels as if these are real life people with genuine issues.
This coupled with the incredible, almost tangible suspense that the director is able to portray on screen all leads up to something raw and special. The problem, however, is this film is not much more than that. It wants to masquerade itself as some art house film with questions of existential nature, but there is not much there. Sure, there is slight implication on the merits of revenge, and who should survive, but it is never explored deeper to warrant any level of enthusiasm.
I don't want to be to harsh on this movie because it is quite good. It is just lacking that oomf , for lack of a better word, to be truly great especially when it is said to be philosophically compelling. It is not. It is compelling at moments as a thriller, but not much more.
This brings us to our protagonist, our vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate (Ok, no V for Vendetta. . .). Dwight played by Malcolm Blair (who shares an uncanny resemblance to my older brother when he is sporting his Jesus beard) is so delicately handled, and he feels so authentically raw in his quietness, that part of me doesn't want to nitpick. I just wish they could have dove further into what made this character who he really is, instead of vague back story and no real insight into his soul, which is left for us to keeping guessing. One could say that this an art form all unto its self, this obscurity of thought, or it could just be said to be lack of good character development. Whatever it is, I personally could have used more insight. Without it, you and I are left with the sense of not truly caring, which I believe part of us all desperately want to do.
Even if I didn't care for the protagonist as much as I wanted to and it isn't philosophically compelling as advertised, this film is still really well made. The acting feels pure, and nothing is forced. The tension is built incredibly well and everything falls into place when it needs to, all as it is cleverly draped in the color blue throughout to subtly suggest the film's somber tone. Blue Ruin could have been more, but whatever. I'll take whatever I can get out of low budget indie film.
Personal Preference: 3.5/5
How Well It Was Made: 4/5