The following is a review of I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore – Directed by Macon Blair
One of last year’s most genuine and shocking surprises were Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room, a violent thriller set in a neo-nazi bar. Green Room was a great little film, which starred Macon Blair in a supporting role, and it made me look back at what Saulnier had made before.
I soon came across Saulnier’s 2013 thriller Blue Ruin, which also starred Macon Blair (this time in a leading role). Both Green Room and Blue Ruin are great, violent thriller films, and I particularly enjoyed Blue Ruin. Therefore my interest was instantly piqued when Macon Blair’s directorial debut – I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore – went on to win the Sundance Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for the U. S. Dramatic competition.
Now Blair’s debut has become a ‘Netflix original film’ and has been released worldwide to all Netflix subscribers just one month after its debut at the Sundance Festival. It’s a great opportunity to quickly get to see one of the most talked about films from one of the most talked about film festivals in the world. It was a wise investment for Netflix, as I believe it’s the best (non-documentary) film they’ve acquired since Beasts of No Nation.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore tells the story of a woman who, after having a really bad day, decides to take matters into her own hands. After returning home after a tough day of work, Ruth (played by Melanie Lynskey), a nurse, sees that she had forgotten to lock her back door, and that someone thus walked in and stole her laptop, her medication, and her grandmother’s silverware.
She doesn’t really panic, but responds to the police officers’ questions in a relatively calm manner, until she learns that they don’t intend to really do much about it. If the stolen items turn up somewhere, she’ll get a call. That’s all. As Ruth gets more and more frustrated, she eventually runs into the somewhat spacey Tony (played by Elijah Wood), who is especially frustrated with her story. They decide to confront the people that have stolen her property, but they have no idea how violent things are going to get.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a quirky black comedy, which is jam-packed with thriller elements. It is a really ambitious and impressive directorial debut for Macon Blair, which culminates in a tense and hyper-violent finale that takes our vigilante heroes in a direction neither of them are particularly comfortable with. It isn’t as stomach-turning as some of Saulnier’s thrillers, but it’s got plenty of cool effects and shots that are tough to watch.
I really enjoyed both of the two key central performances, and I was pleasantly surprised by seeing Jane Levy appear in a minor role. I loved Elijah Wood here, and it’s probably my favorite role I’ve seen him in since he stopped playing Frodo Baggins. Melanie Lynskey plays somewhat of an audience surrogate who, not unlike the audience, starts to become upset with the way the world treats her. Lynskey’s performance and character isn’t just believable throughout, Ruth is also just really relatable.
The only real issue that I had with the film is that it definitely seems like Macon Blair has been, understandably, incredibly inspired by Jeremy Saulnier. So much so, even, that it’s really tough to see I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore as its own thing. It makes you feel like you’re watching a Saulnier movie rather than a directorial debut. Also, in finding his own voice, Blair’s film isn’t as tonally consistent as Saulnier’s Green Room or Blue Ruin.
However, that last issue isn’t really a big problem for me, as I loved how the film was rolling with the tonal punches and shifts. It does feel like a roller-coaster ride with black comedy and thriller elements thrown in there, but that did work for me, and it did feel right for this kind of movie. It’s just that, although I enjoyed every second of the film, it doesn’t ever become as tense as either of the excellent aforementioned Saulnier films.
8 out of 10
– Jeffrey Rex