Let’s get right down to it: I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. is punk rock, effortlessly cool. It’s a movie where if you go in cold — no trailers or reading the synopsis — the chaotic ride is so much grander. It’s not secret I’m a huge fan of multi-hyphenate Macon Blair (star of Blue Ruin), but even if is name was not attached to this film, I’d still love it. It’s so fucking crazy cool.
I Don’t Feel at Home stars the lovely Melanie Lynskey (Hello I Must Be Going) as Ruth Kimke, who wants people to be nice to each other. She figured out how to be a human before most of the world. It’s a harsh world and being kind goes a long way. However, that’s not how the things work. When we first meet her, she’s aiding one of her patients at a hospital — she’s a nurse’s assistant — and the patient dies with her in the room. It’s a jarring moment, but there’s some light humor, as the patient’s last words for her family are, well, disgusting.
When Ruth gets home, she discovers her house has been broken into, and some of her most beloved possessions have been stolen. It’s safe to say she’s having one very bad day. Ruth does have some luck, in one of the strangest ways possible. She becomes friends with her eccentric weirdo neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood, who is super fucking hilarious as this character) by throwing his dog’s poop at him it left in her yard when he’s taking it on a walk. This interaction is where her courage to fight back begins. It’s a defining moment for her.
Shortly after, her phone dings to show the location where her stolen computer is now located. She has the correct What the fuck do I do now? expression painted on her face anyone would have in this strange situation. She enlists the help of Tony to get her belongings back, which puts them on an uncomfortable, funny, and inadvertent ultra-violent adventure of retribution. All Ruth wants is to get her stuff back, and for people to try to be good, or better, but if that won’t happen, give her her fucking stuff back.
Macon Blair first burst on the scene in Jeremy Saulnier’s excellent hyper-violent tale of revenge, Blue Ruin. If you haven’t seen this movie, stop what you’re doing now, get a copy, and watch it. I’ll wait.
Done? Cool. You’re welcome.
Blair is just as talented behind the camera as he is in front. He’s no stranger to writing — he’s penned a script and graphic novel, but this is the first time he’s sitting in the director’s chair. His work behind the camera is staggeringly good. He knows exactly what he wants us to see and feel, and more importantly, he gets real, raw emotions in uncomfortable situations, and understands something about violence that most directors get wrong: it’s quick and shocking. (The reactions from a character seeing real violence for this first time is hilarious and bonkers. But it’s real. It’s how you and I would react.) Blair is a talented fella and can write and direct, that’s for damn sure.
As Ruth, Lynskey fills the character with real sympathy for people and wanting everyone to be good, but when she learns there are truly ugly people out there, she takes the role in a quite explosive and fascinating turn. That’s why Lynskey is such a wonderful actress — she’s unpredictable and her often quiet, nuanced performances never fail to amaze. She’s that good.
Almost stealing the show is Elijah Wood (North, Back to the Future Part II). His Tony has spent a lifetime collecting Chinese throwing stars (that do come in handy when thrown correctly) and other Japanese weapons, and masturbating to porn. He believes superheroes are real, and he can be one of them with said weapons with his go-get ‘em attitude. He dresses like he still loves the 80s, has a rat tail and wears those big aviator glasses mob bosses wore in the 70s, and pedophiles took up in the 80s. As Tony, Wood is fucking hilarious and awesome. This character is so good; I wish there were a spinoff of him helping people solve problems, one neighbor at a time. I love, love, loooove this character. I’ve never liked watching Wood on screen more than I did in this movie. He’s that good.
If I had to classify I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore., I’d call it a modern suburban noir. There’s enough sleaze, bad guys, violence, and mayhem to make it so. It’s one of the most fun movies I watched in a very long time, and I’m pumped for Blair’s future endeavors as a director.
Premiering on Netfix on February 24, 2017.