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35 Things We Learned from the Blue Ruin Commentary

We chronicle the lessons we can learn from Jeremy Saulnier and Macon Blair as they talk about Blue Ruin on the DVD commentary.
Blue Ruin Gun
By  · Published on April 13th, 2016

18. They use the word “bite” in reference stealing ideas, scenes, etc from other projects. “Someone accused me of biting a movie I never saw,” says Saulnier, “and then people have definitely likened this film to Shotgun Stories.”

19. When Dwight puts Teddy’s (Kevin Kolack) body in the back seat it’s really Blair lifting that weight. “I’m not a powerful dude,” says Blair, “and my back was barking after that.” The following scene where he puts the body in the trunk was shot in such a way that Kolack could actually do some of the leg work himself.

20. The pharmacist is played by the actual pharmacist at the pharmacy. They were prepared to have an Assistant Director in the non-speaking role, but as the owner watched them setting up he commented that the AD didn’t look like a real pharmacist. Saulnier said okay and asked the man to basically play himself.

21. The close-up of Dwight’s leg as he tries to disinfect and remove the crossbow bolt features a fake leg and “was the most expensive gag in the movie.”

22. The character of Ben (Devin Ratray) is based on a childhood friend of Saulnier’s. “While he is a noble man and against missions of revenge, he does own a fair amount of weaponry. I just leaned on ‘what would I do?’ in this situation. I don’t know a guy in the mafia who can give me a gun in an alley, and I wouldn’t want to go out and try and buy one on the black market.”

23. Blair gets more beer about 51 minutes into the commentary.

24. Ratray originally auditioned for the role of Teddy, but while he “nailed” it Saulnier thought he was far better suited as Ben. Kudos to Blair and Saulnier for praising Ratray without feeling the need to point out that he played Buzz in Home Alone.

25. Ben’s humming of the theme from The A-Team was an improvisation on Ratray’s part, and it cost them money. They could have cut it, but Saulnier loves the joke and felt it was worth the cost.

26. Saulnier loves messing with the traditional “good guy saves the day” scene, and that’s evident in the sequence where Ben saves Dwight by shooting Teddy in the head… after missing with his first shot.

27. The shot of the Polaroid picture being destroyed in the microwave “took fucking months!”

28. That’s really Blair vomiting at 1:06:55. “We always feel like if you do the fake barf with a mouth full of oatmeal everybody can see it coming a mile away, so we always want to try to do it real,” says Blair. “In the past I’ve done it better than that.”

29. They comment that similar to what some script-readers said, some critics have pointed out that the film loses steam in the finale. “Of course they’re right,” says Saulnier, “but that was the intention to sort of derail the standard trajectory of an action film.” It’s a conceit the film plays with all the way through, successfully, so anyone who pointed it out as a negative is an idiot. Those are my words, not Saulnier’s or Blair’s.

30. The film originally played some European festivals, and Blair recalls some viewers being “flabbergasted” at the amount of guns in these characters’ houses. “They immediately went to the idea that this was a big satire about gun culture in America.” It’s not, but Saulnier adds that earlier versions of the script featured dialogue about gun laws and such. “It was too political for me, and I took it out.”

31. Saulnier refers to the bit where Dwight urinates on Wade Sr.’s grave as “the only act of revenge, the only act of justice in the entire movie” as he’s the one who committed the original crime. Blair says that when he read early drafts of the script “that was the part that I kind of scratched my head at and said ‘I don’t think I like this.’ And now I can’t imagine it any other way.”

32. The photo album that Dwight flips through at the Cleland house was purchased by Saulnier on eBay. “I still need to track down the owners,” he says, “because I outbid them, and within the family they were trying to buy their own family photos back.” “Oh no!” says a shocked Blair. “Can we get them back to them?” Saulnier promises to do just that. “Sorry we portrayed your family as psycho killers in our movie,” adds Blair.

33. “This shot right here is one of the very few highly indulgent directorial shots of the movie,” says Saulnier, referring to the tracking shot across the Cleland’s photo-laden mantle. “It’s very literal, it’s showing the legacy of the family and how it’s about to end.”

34. The bit where Kris (Eve Plumb) pulls an automatic weapon from beneath a La-Z-Boy is based on a real childhood friend of Saulnier’s. “His father had an Ingram M-11 under a recliner, so that’s some real Virginia shit, so don’t doubt that.”

35. Saulnier is drunk by the end credits and shares his email address saying anyone should feel free to contact him with questions or comments, but it’s bleeped out. He wonders if he should redo the commentary sober, but Blair says “it’s a little more real this way.” “But it’s embarrassing,” says Saulnier, “because we both want to get more jobs.” “To do commentaries on DVD?” asks Blair.

Best in Context-Free Commentary

Final Thoughts

The best commentaries are a mix of anecdotes, information, and personality, and the pairing of these old friends and talented filmmakers is a winning combination. Here’s hoping the eventual Green Room Blu-ray comes with another Saulnier/Blair commentary track recorded over a few beers. (I’d also like a separate commentary reserved for Imogen Poots, drunk or sober.)

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.