As slow burn thrillers go, this is one of the best I can think of in recent years. I could start to describe the different movies it hews close to, but that just might end up doing it a disservice. So I'll just say that it takes a lot of familiar beats from the revenge thriller subgenre and twists them ever so slightly, making things feel a lot fresher in the process.
Macon Blair is Dwight, a young, homeless man. He may seem to have no plan in life, and no ambition, but it soon becomes clear that there's one thing he wants, at any cost. Revenge. When a kind police officer takes him back to the station to break some bad news - the killer of his parents is finally being freed from prison - Dwight then sets about preparing for what he knows he must do. Unfortunately, it doesn't go quite as planned, which sets off a damaging sequence of events that Dwight is then desperate to stop.
Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, Blue Ruin is one of those movies best described as quietly powerful. Or, perhaps, brooding. Almost every scenes is loaded with the potential for danger and pain, either physical or emotional. But that's not all there is to it. There are some jumps here and there, some scenes that will get your heart racing, and a number of scenes that show just how good Saulnier is at using various cinematic techniques to wring more tension from the material.
The cast all do a great job, but the top honours go to Blair for his portrayal of Dwight. First shown with an unruly head of hair and big, shaggy beard, Dwight may physically transform as the movie unfolds but his behaviour never changes. He has always been determined to get his revenge, but he's also a timid man who doesn't really know what he's doing. Amy Hargreaves doesn't have much screentime, playing Dwight's sister, but she does well enough, Devin Ratray is enjoyable as an old friend who helps Dwight out, and Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb and David W. Thompson all do a good job as relatives of the man Dwight is aiming for.
Although I don't think it's QUITE as good as all of the praise it has been garnering over the past few weeks, Blue Ruin is still very good indeed. It's worth seeing, and it's worth going out of your way to see it at a local cinema, because supporting quality independent cinema means that we can get more and more of it. Which is good for us movie lovers.