Daily | Cannes 2013 | Jeremy Saulnier’s BLUE RUIN

Blue Ruin

‘Blue Ruin’

“In early April, Brooklyn-based cinematographer and filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier was en route to shooting a corporate video in Cleveland when he learned that his movie had been accepted to the Cannes Film Festival,” begins Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn at the top of an interview with the director. “It was quite the validation: To make the tense, violent crime drama Blue Ruin, the first feature Saulnier directed since his scrappy horror-satire Murder Party in 2007, Saulnier relied on financing from his wife’s retirement fund, his own Amex card, and a last-minute Kickstarter campaign. But Sundance had rejected him and he had started to think the movie might not get out there for another year. Instead, Cannes’ esteemed Directors Fortnight section catapulted Blue Ruin to international attention at the biggest film gathering in the world.”

“I doubt we’ll see a more deft, thrilling genre film this year,” declares Brian Clark at Twitch. “The unlikely protagonist here is a doughy-eyed beach bum named Dwight [Macon Blair]. We’re not talking beach bum in the cute lazy-surfer sense of the word; he is actually a bum who lives on the beach, who breaks into houses to sleep at night when the inhabitants are on vacations, sifts through the trash for food, and spends most of his time in a beat-up, rusty car. Life isn’t good by any means, but it’s simple—until he finds out that the man who murdered both of his parents [Will Cleland, played by David W. Thompson] has been let out of prison on account plea bargain. So, as the genre requires, off he goes to right the injustice.”

“Again serving as his own D.P. (his other lensing credits include Matthew Porterfield’s I Used to Be Darker and Putty Hill), Saulnier cleverly establishes a man-on-the-run theme in his opening shot, before the action proper has even started,” writes Variety‘s Justin Chang. “The filmmaking is clean and efficient but the killing isn’t, and in the course of his clumsy, foolhardy getaway, Dwight ends up putting Will’s entire gun-toting redneck family on his tail. In a twist that streamlines the narrative considerably, the Clelands opt not to inform the police of the attack, choosing instead to keep things ‘in-house.'”

“Suffice it to say this is another movie that imagines contemporary America as a new Wild West,” writes Ben Kenigsberg at, “or at least the potential setting for a modern Hatfields–McCoys feud. Laced with dark humor (the protagonist struggles to attend to his gushing wounds without visiting a hospital), this mildly glib thriller also has a hot-button point to make. It’s quite clear the body count would be lower if these characters had fewer guns.”

“If the Directors Fortnight is intent on championing superior genre fare then they have found an ideal candidate in Blue Ruin,” writes Allan Hunter in Screen. Stephen Zeitchik profiles Saulnier for the Los Angeles Times.

RADiUS-TWC has picked up North American rights, reports Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt.

Update, 5/21: Brian Brooks talks with Saulnier for the Daily Buzz (15’32”).

Update, 5/25: The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), presenting an award each year to one film in Competition, one film in Un Certain Regard, and one in the Directors’ Fortnight, has singled out Blue Is the Warmest Color, Manuscripts Don’t Burn, and Blue Ruin. John Hopewell has more in Variety.

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