Blue Ruin is a great American revenge movie, because it doesn’t play out like most great revenge movies. In it, the target — the villain who must die, the object of the hero’s obsession — is confronted and dealt with before we even have a good grasp on who the hero is, or what’s going on. As such, the focus is on the aftermath: the consequences of killing, of eye-for-an-eye justice. And amid all the bloodshed and dark humor is a message about violence in America, I’m just not sure what it is yet.
What makes Ilo Ilo more than just another family drama is the nuance with which writer/director Anthony Chen builds his characters. While each one appears based on a stereotype (the commanding mother, the shy maid, the troublesome son), they also have certain flaws or attributes that make them, as individuals, appear much more human than the usual fare that alights in family dramas, which are so fatally prone to melodrama.