With just his second feature, writer/director/cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier made one of the highlights of the 2013 festival circuit (including the FIRPRESCI prize at Cannes): BLUE RUIN is a must-see for fans of gritty, intimate drama.

Dwight (Macon Blair) is living rough – sleeping in his car, eating out of bins, breaking into houses for a bath. A friendly visit from the police suddenly changes that when a concerned officer advises Dwight that “he” is going to be released. A switch in Dwight’s brain is flicked, who immediately drives off to confront “him”.

Saulnier’s extraordinary achievement is to look past what many would feel is the traditional narrative arc of the genre, and focus instead on the drama of the aftermath, effectively turning it on its head. Revenge is messy, and Dwight’s poorly thought-through actions deliver an avalanche of unexpected repercussions and twists to his story.

The screenwriting is concise and sparse, the cinematography is often beautifully calculated (its hues brought MEMENTO back to mind). The direction and editing are tremendously economical, and the low-key central performance from Blair (also invested in the film as an executive producer) holds it all together. BLUE RUIN never reveals a single detail artificially, which makes it all the more riveting. For some, this will be a highlight of their movie-going year – I can’t urge you strongly enough to find out if you are one of them.

BLUE RUIN is released April 25 in the US, and May 2 in the UK.