Film Review: ‘I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore’

Film Review: ‘I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore’

In a world filled with rage and vitriol, it can often be difficult to sit idly by and resort to the escapism of movies. No matter what’s going on on-screen, one’s mind may often wander towards more serious issues at hand. And while a film like I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore remains a piece of escapism by the simple virtue of being a movie, it’s an easily accessible reminder of why we stand up and fight back against the horrific acts going on around the country. Though not an explicit condemnation of anything done by the current presidency, it reminds audiences to fight back and to try to make the world a better place. In the word’s of director Macon Blair, the moral of the story is: “don’t be a dick.”

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is the story of Ruth (Melanie Lynskey), a woman who’s house is robbed, forcing her to take matters into her own hands to see the wrong righted. Both written and directed by Blair, the film is representative of the quiet, empathetic characters who the 42-year old has come to be known for. It’s a script that seeks to balance tension, introspection, and comedy, and while there are the occasional speed bumps along the way, Blair shows the sort of skillset that will leave fans hungry for more of his films.

Melanie Lynskey in Macon Blair's I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’ [Credit: Netflix]

Known for his collaborations with director Jeremy Saulnier, audiences familiar with his previous work almost certainly came into this movie with expectations of a dark and grizzly story. Blair surprised though, by creating a film that energizes with more comedy than intensity. Visually, Blair and cinematographer Larkin Seiple engineer a dark and biting world, but as the story begins to unfold, we get scenes where the muted colors give way to a brightness that helps releases a rush of comedic struggle between the characters.

Melanie Lynskey shines in the lead role, getting an opportunity to portray a multi-dimensional female lead, taking the character of Ruth and using her to embody a deeply sympathetic frustration and isolation. And while Lynskey does much of the heavy lifting emotionally, she’s also able to provide excellent setups and reactions to her co-stars. Elijah Wood gets the bulk of her assistance, playing a hilarious loner martial artist wannabe whose moments of reckless nonsense are played up perfectly by Lynskey. Wood takes a person whose rattail makes him immediately punchable and crafts a character who we simultaneously love, and also understand why he is so outwardly unappealing. Gary Anthony Williams is also practically unrecognizable from his role as Abe on Malcolm in the Middle, as he takes on the role of a distracted detective. While Wood’s real introductory scene might deliver the most laugh out loud moments of the film, the banter between Williams and Lynskey as they sit together in the police station is simultaneously the most snidely crafted scene and a perfectly emblematic sequence of the movie’s message. Lynskey and Williams work off of each other to create a sense of internal turmoil and exasperation at their inability to make changes while simultaneously fighting against each other despite wanting the same end goal to make the world a better place.

Melanie Lynskey and Gary Anthony Williams in Macon Blair's I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’ [Credit: Netflix]

Macon Blair’s script shines through, and while the story doesn’t quite capture the lengthy moments of tension that I would hope for from a protege of Saulnier, the climactic third act allows you to forget that minor shortcoming of the first two-thirds of the film. In a climax that infuses the tone and visuals of Saulnier with the storytelling of Tarantino, what minimal wrongs there were are quickly righted.

Among the other bright spots of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is the incredible scoring and soundtrack done by Macon’s younger brothers, Brooke and Will Blair. The pair found the perfect songs to hype up moments of fun and managed to create just the right sounds to ratchet up the tension during the later parts of the story. It’s a soundtrack that highlights both the tense and comedic bits of the movie and is a soundtrack that I would feel compelled to listen to regardless of my thoughts on the film.

Jane Levy in Macon Blair's I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’ [Credit: Netflix]

While TV shows like Fox’s 24: Legacy, lean into the rage-fueled world we live in, a movie like I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore provides the same action, intensity, and comedy that the genre promises while managing to send the opposite message. Shows like 24: Legacy continue to push the wrong way, passively encouraging a distaste for those who are different. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, on the other hand, fights against that ideal, embodying its message of kindness and togetherness through a mixed race child who presents gifts in the face of confusion and fear.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a strong debut for writer/director Macon Blair, and is the sort of relevant escapism that can allow us to have fun while still remembering the importance of our current political atmosphere. Don’t be a selfish asshole; stand up for what’s right.

Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood in Macon Blair's I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’ [Credit: Netflix]

Blair’s upcoming work is fairly extensive, and includes a screenwriting credit on Jeremy Saulnier’s next film Hold the Dark, participation both on the page and on-screen in Netflix’s upcoming Small Crimes, appearances in 2017 for both Sean Baker’s The Florida Project and Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, and a just-announced return to the directors chair for The Shitheads. Blair is one of the most underutilized voices in the industry today, and  I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore has already helped boost his star power. Here’s to hoping Blair keeps creating some of the best projects in Hollywood.

Also, check it out, it’s Pussyhands.

David Yow in Macon Blair's I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’ [Credit: Netflix]

DLD Rating: ★★★★☆

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