Blue Ruin ★★★

Try as it might to be hard-nosed, "Blue Ruin" is a slow-rolling thriller that can not avoid playing out as dark comedy. Perhaps, it is not really trying to be hard-nosed, but it is going a Coen Brothers-meets-Ben Wheatley route as a comic-tinged revenge story and layering two or more genres together fittingly. Either way, the film makes for an interesting experience with an even more interesting tone.

"Blue Ruin" unfolds by introducing its bearded, sad sack protagonist who has learned that the man who murdered his parents is due to be released from prison. These facts coming together methodically, Macon Blair's Dwight tracks down the killer and begins a quietly bumbling attempt at exacting vengeance.

The story begins with an air of dread and tension, but, as the wide-eyed, inept Dwight goes about his series a revenge-oriented misadventures, that tension becomes coupled with a subtle goofiness. Director, Jeremy Saulnier, keeps the stakes high and the blood flowing, but the undercurrent of comic clumsiness is ever present.

Though some of the film's performances lack polish, "Blue Ruin" is sturdily assembled. Saulnier's camera bobs through set ups, keeping things as ill-at-ease as Dwight's mindset, and an accomplished sound design builds a palpable sense of dread. Macon Blair deftly plays his stumbling everyman who is bent on doing what is right even if he is ill-equipped to do so.

With its bloody morality play of a climax, the film strives for tragic depth but ends up losing some of the goodwill it had earned early on. Still, the film is a solid piece of work made compelling by its genre-bending protagonist.

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