The Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance Film Festival 2017 is a thoroughly entertaining off-kilter thriller, and strong directorial debut from Macon Blair that feels like an unofficial companion piece to Blue Ruin.
In this Netflix exclusive, Melanie Lynskey stars as Ruth, a depressed nursing assistant living on her own who finds herself increasingly frustrated by the inconsiderate actions of people in every day life. One day after coming home Ruth discovers her house has been broken into and some of her possessions, including treasured silverware from her grandmother, has been stolen. Despite reporting the incident to the police they don’t take much interest, simplifying the matter as a result poor security by Ruth. Incensed by lack of support, with her privacy violated, Ruth takes matters into her own hands. In the effort to track down the culprits she enlist the help of her eccentric neighbour Tony (Elijah Wood) as back up, and together fumble their way to right the wrongs.
The films director, Macon Blair, has quietly worked away on independent features in nondescript roles for a few years, then came his starring role in Blue Ruin (2013). In it he played Dwight, a man seeking vengeance for the murder of his parents when he learns of their killer being released from prison. It takes him on an unexpected journey where nothing pans out as it should. It’s a brilliant film that subverts the usual revenge film tropes. With that in mind it is hard not to see the similarities between the two features, ordinary people getting caught up in scenarios they are by no means equipped for. Refreshingly this tends to lead to farcical interactions between characters that leave you laughing and shocked at the same time. As a result I felt the exact same way after watching I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore as I did after Blue Ruin, incredibly satisfied and thoroughly entertained.
Ruth and Tony are an oddball combination, but their uniquely strange way of dealing with situations is awkwardly endearing. Ruth’s outlook on the world is the embodiment of how you feel after somebody pushes past you in the street, and Tony has a fascination with Asian culture…and weapons. They don’t painfully trip up as often as Dwight in Blue Ruin, but they could easily be his long lost kin. Both Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood do a great with these characters, making them very believable and not just fumbling caricatures. They absolutely have a special set of skills, but they display few of them.
For a first feature Macon Blair has made a very refined film that not only feels the part but looks it as well. Very much cut from the same cloth as his frequent collaborater Jeremy Saulnier’s (Green Room, 2016) work, it is an unorthodox indie well worth the time. Credit must also be given to cinematographer Larkin Seiple (Bleed for This, Cop Car) who is fast becoming a name to watch out for with some wonderful looking work. Overall I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is both an amusing and engaging piece of work, and a great addition to a unique brand of genre subversion.