Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
Most of my recommendations range from fair to solid. It’s nice every now and then to find one that stands out as truly excellent. Blue Ruin (Netflix) is just such a movie.
The story begins as a pretty straightforward revenge fantasy: traumatized vagrant sets off on an uncertain journey to avenge the murder of his family. Things nearly go according to plan, but our tragic hero fails to account for the repercussions of his vendetta.
For a movie populated with literally no one you’ve ever heard of (unless you’re a really big fan of Home Alone) the cast is shockingly strong. It’s anchored by Macon Blair, the introspective, googly-eyed lead who carries big chunks of the movie in wordless silence. When we meet him he’s living out of his car, doing his best Castaway impression. The reality of his somber, numbed existence is riveting.
It only gets better once he shaves the beard and starts talking. His terror and pain coupled with an unfailing, logical resolve make for some amazing contrasts.
Blue Ruin is the sophomore directing effort of a cinematographer named Jeremy Saulnier. His first film was Murder Party, which I have vague recollections of but never actually watched. Now that I’ve seen the follow-up, I will have to make time for it.
Blue Ruin is a fully formed piece of art, perfect in its simplicity and polished to a mirror shine. Saulnier has a great eye and gets the most out of his cast. He also wrote the smartly paced script, which is generally light on dialogue but never shies away from sincere exchanges. He even manages to plug in some genuine humor without clashing with the severity of the proceedings. This movie is gonna get its director noticed in a big way.
Added bonus: No bonus for you. Just watch the damn movie and thank me later.