A nefarious misadventure that's technical prowess and heartbreaking lead performance belies its economical pedigree, Saulnier's farcical tale is punctuated with irregular scenes of dark, bumbling humour whilst a wanton disregard for the bellicose testosterone of similar tales successfully constructs a tense and naturally opaque mood that broods with the clammy tension of an impending storm. Hitherto better known as a celebrated cinematographer, Saulnier's crisp yet acutely restricting framing adds a sense of emotional incarceration to this taut southern fried thriller, with each morsel of Blue Ruin's laconic script littered with gritty home truths and succinct metaphors for America's crumbling society. Indeed, Dwight's transformation from homeless hick to clean-shaven defender is a crystal clear comment on the castration of the American middle-classes and its gradual enslavement to material possessions.
Revenge is normally a dish best served cold, but here Saulnier thaws his tale of vengeance with the humid Virginia climate and the authentic disposition of his endearingly fallible protagonist. Dwight's inability to rise to the challenge ahead of him renders him a compassionate and identifiable lead, a man angry and motivated yet lacking the sociopathic mentality to satisfy his appetite for revenge. One scene in particular epitomises the film's contempt for heroism. After an arrow strikes Dwight, we witness him hobble into a pharmacy, collect the necessary supplies he requires and return to his trusted Pontiac to perform some on-the-hoof surgery, only to moments later see him stumbling into a nearby hospital and collapse. Dwight might not be the hero Blue Ruin's audience need, but he's certainly the one they deserve; a flawed, imperfect symbol of how even the most clean-cut pacifist can be drawn into a life of violence.