Movie Review #935
|Limited release on April 15, 2014. Crime/Drama/Thriller. This film is rated R for strong bloody violence, and language. Runs 90 minutes. An American-French co-production. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier. Writer: Jeremy Saulnier. Cast: Macon Blair.|
LET’S STAY POSITIVE. IT COULD BE WORSE.
By Alexander Diminiano
“Blue Ruin”! What a title, right? I can’t think of a single title that fits this movie any better. For one, this is a sad movie. I’m not saying it intends to be that way, but at the end of the day, the subject matter in this movie really puts you in a gloomy mood. So there’s the “blue” part. Then there’s the “ruin” part, which is just that this film is a piece of shit as a result of Jeremy Saulnier’s ruining it.
I refuse to play lightly with this film. I refuse to cut slack for a rookie filmmaker because it’s their “first time.” When I wrote a movie review for the first time, I thought it was excellent, but that was more than three years ago; looking back, that first time sucked. It was a learning experience.
I’m not saying all first films–or all first-time endeavors–are learning experiences and not a shred more. Look at what Martin Scorsese did with “Who’s that Knocking at My Door”, or what Quentin Tarantino did with “Reservoir Dogs”, or even what Wes Anderson did with “Bottle Rocket”–a rather poor film, especially when compared to his later works, but still a whole lot better than “Blue Ruin”. My point is, I’m a film critic, not a kindergarten teacher, and so I’m not going to sit here and clap for Jeremy Saulnier because he made a “good effort.”
It scares me to think that there are actually independent filmmakers who believe that the art of success lies entirely in a good effort. If I could round every one of them up–Saulnier most certainly included–in an embarrassingly large screening room and show them all Andy Warhol’s “Empire”, then perhaps they’d abandon their vapid philosophy. After sitting and staring at a silent, unmoving shot of the Empire State Building for 6 hours, let’s see who among them has the nerve to say the movie is a masterpiece because of all the effort Warhol had to make to convince the State of New York to let him film it.
I spent 90 minutes watching this film and I still couldn’t tell you what it was about if I had all the time in the world to work out my confusion. The movie starts out with a homeless man living on Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. You’d think that he’d be someone to sympathize for, except for the fact that he’s getting by in life by breaking into cars, stealing things, and (so it is suggested) killing people. Naturally, I feel bad for the homeless, but I have absolutely no sympathy for criminals. This character didn’t seem poor and oppressed to me. Instead, he seemed violent, impulsive, stupid, and selfish.
That guy’s gone from “Blue Ruin” once it reaches the thirty-minute mark. Now we’re faced with a well-dressed, possibly married (I say “possibly” because I can’t exactly remember, and I don’t care to) man who has probably served in the armed forces at some point based on his mannerisms. Dear Mr. Saulnier, if you are reading this, I would like to ask a question: Who in pluperfect hell is this man and what in God’s name does he have to do with the homeless fellow we saw in the beginning?
The last thirty minutes might just be the worst of it, because you’re not just scratching your head, you’re practically scratching till you bleed. Whatever the title “Blue Ruin” does actually mean, it can’t mean anything political, because this movie certainly does not urge gun control. The last thirty minutes is an overlong and insanely violent gun commercial. And I guarantee you, this movie is NRA-approved, because the finale depicts far too many visual examples of “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People”. There might’ve been one character who was actually still alive at the end of the film. But at the same time, it’s no Shakespearean ending. Or maybe it is, if we just assume that during Shakespeare’s lost years, he had not the faintest idea how to write or direct a play.