Reservoir Dogs. Blood Simple. Memento... Great careers start with cryptic titles, and Blue Ruin, which opens today, may yet see its writer/director/DoP Jeremy Saulnier leaving the low-budget indie sector pretty sharpish. Feted at Sundance and since, Saulnier is a man in demand and American gothic TV series of the moment, True Detective, is one of the projects his name has been linked with. So is there any truth in the rumour that he'll be directing episodes on season two?
“That’s just, like, some film website blogger’s little wish list,” he laughs. “I got sent that link and I was worried they might jinx it, because I would love to do that. True Detective is right up my alley. Actually, my management company helped develop that series, so... who knows? There’s an outside chance. But until then I’ll rely upon myself to keep generating material and see what floats.”
For now, though, Saulnier is concentrating on Blue Ruin's US and UK release. The story of a bearded drifter (Macon Blair) whose life is snapped into focus by the release from prison of the man who murdered his parents, it's a taut and bloody revenge thriller, the kind one might expect from an intelligent guy in his 30s, reared on lean, mean films by John Carpenter, Sam Raimi and George Romero. But what exactly is a “blue ruin”?
“It’s absolutely a mood title,” says the Brooklyn-based Saulnier. “We had 40 titles on an Excel sheet. But nothing was right, because everything we came up with was too badass or too aggressive and masculine. So I was Googling words like ‘debacle’ and I came across this lesser-known term for debacle, which is ‘blue ruin’. I thought it was perfect: it represents the character’s landscape, the fact that he’s broke, he lives in a 1991 Bonneville and he scavenges. The blue part was a bonus, because it relates to his car and the general colour palette of the film. Had I known there would be three other films with the word Blue in the title last year (including Blue Is The Warmest Colour and Blue Jasmine), I might have had a second thoughts... But we rode out that Blue wave.”
Although Saulnier references exploitation films a lot, Blue Ruin is not exactly Hobo With A Shotgun 2. “There was an internal conflict within me,” he reveals. “I like gore, I like splatter, but I felt, as I was writing this, that I couldn’t celebrate violence. So although there are parts of Blue Ruin that are a make-up show, I don’t let the audience off the hook when the violence is happening on screen. It would be a cop-out. It’s hard to escape the landscape of gun violence in America, and it kinda polluted my little bubble! So I embraced that inner conflict and let it bleed into the movie.”
Blue Ruin is out now.