Sundance 2017 Review: I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore: I did not expect Macon Blair’s directorial debut to be similar to Blue Ruin at all. Why would it be? He starred in and produced Blue Ruin but that was Jeremy Saulnier’s vision. I suppose I should have realized there’s a reason they’re friends. I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore has a violent streak in common with Blair’s films with Saulnier, but a more absurdist comedy angle.
Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) gets robbed and the police are ineffectual, even when she uses her cell phone to locate her stolen computer. This is her last straw after days of suffering society’s inconsiderate masses. Ruth investigates the burglars herself, with the help of her wannabe martial artist neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood) and gets herself into even more trouble.
So this is another incompetent vigilante story, but while Blue Ruin was about the drama of embarking on revenge when you have no training, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore is complete comedy. Tony is a poser, Ruth’s confrontation with the robbers is absurd and all the violence is ungraceful and looks ridiculous. Yet the results are as bloody as anything in Blue Ruin. I mean, it is violent AF.
Through the comedy, we do become invested in Ruth. It’s probably a valuable lesson that sometimes you should just let it go. Antisocial criminals are too unpredictable and you’re better off if you weren’t around when they struck. But Ruth makes a solid point about the general ambivalence of people to basic empathy and complete obliviousness to anyone else.
Ruth is a nurse and has to suck it up when dying patients spout racist last words. Strangers spoil the book she’s reading because they just have to feel important telling her something she didn’t know yet. Her neighbors not only didn’t see anything, but don’t care to help. Except Tony, who’s delusional but it’s fun to see how ineffective throwing stars are in practice.
All of this makes I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore just surreal enough to be fantasy. Wood’s intensity is surreal, Ruth has a Percodan trip that only obscures reality a tad, and the violence is just extreme enough to show she’s in over her head. It seems like a cautionary tale for anyone who dreams of being an action hero though. Leave it to the super stylized movies.
Blair has a unique voice, blending observational humor with absurd irreverence. His film has something to say about the state of the world but only inasmuch as it provides a satisfying catharsis to go on Ruth’s journey. I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore will be on Netflix February 24, and I can’t wait to see what subcategory Netflix puts it in. Maybe violent crime movies with female protagonists?