Blue Ruin [2013]

I remember walking out after watching Unforgiven and thinking that I’d never need to watch another Western again. Clint Eastwood’s 1992 masterpiece is still essentially the perfect response to the genre, and if you have to pick just one moment as the example, it’s as Bill Munny murders Little Bill Daggett: “Deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it.” Well, that should be the tag line for this subdued, thoughtful, surprising and all-round amazing revenge story. It’s appallingly easy to summarise what’s great about it: take all the genre tropes and clichés, strip them back to essentials, strip out any kind of glorification of violence or sense of moral authority or redemption, film it in a muted colour palette, with actors who never seem like they’re acting…

I have to admit, this isn’t a film for everyone. If you’re looking for a bit of light fun on a rainy Sunday afternoon, look elsewhere. But if you want to walk out of a film thinking that it’s genre is now finished, you could consider this.

Of course, 5 years after Unforgiven, Sam Raimi made The Quick and the Dead, which was a different perfect distillation of the genre, and a decade after that total-unknown David Von Ancken made Seraphim Falls, which was a different 5-star genre-defining feature. So never say never, but for now, my genre definition looks suspiciously like a homeless man terrified of what he’s decided he must do, and then more terrified at how easy it was, and how relentless.

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