Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Macon Blair
Written by: Macon Blair
Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow, Jane Levy, Devon Graye, Christine Woods, Robert Longstreet & Gary Anthony Williams
Macon Blair is a name that might sound familiar to fans of indie cinema. He was the main star of 2014’s BLUE RUIN and played a neo-Nazi in last year’s GREEN ROOM. In 2017, Blair has taken a break from being on the screen and instead has released his directorial debut I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE. This darkly comedic crime-thriller successfully mixes laughter, well-crafted suspense, and a down-to-earth emotional core. It’s one of the best independent films I’ve seen in quite some time and I’d go as far as saying this is easily Netflix’s best original film to date.
Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) can’t get a break in life. She works as a medical assistant in a nursing home, constantly finds herself beset by rude jerks around her, and can’t even drink in peace without someone revealing major spoilers for the book series she’s currently reading. One particularly bad day becomes even worse when Ruth finds her home has been broken into and stuff (priceless silverware, her laptop, medication) has been stolen. Sick of taking shit from other people, Ruth decides enough is enough. Assisted by her newfound oddball friend Tony (Elijah Wood), the vigilante pair go about tracking down the scumbag thieves…only to find themselves in way over their heads.
I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE is strongly directed from its first shot to its last. It’s hard to believe that Macon Blair is a first-time filmmaker because he’s made one hell of a debut. He likely picked up skills from Jeremy Saulnier’s sets and I’d argue that he raises his comedy-thriller above any of Saulnier’s good-but-not-great thrillers. I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE resembles an early Coen brothers movie, yet has more than enough originality and quirkiness to not feel like a rip-off/homage. This is its own creative beast, making for a thoroughly entertaining and intense viewing experience.
At the forefront of the cast are Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood. The former does a stellar job of bringing life to this anxiety-prone protagonist who’s finally taking a stand against assholes. Lynskey’s Ruth will likely connect with any viewer who’s ever had a really shitty day and found themselves fed up with the world. Though Ruth takes her quest to rid the world of assholes further than any rational person would, she remains a cathartically relatable and slightly naïve heroine. Meanwhile, Elijah Wood is hilarious and just plain weird as Tony. He steals a handful of scenes and gets laughs from the sense that this anger-prone character can/will fly off the handle at any second.
The supporting cast also bring strong performances. The villains are appropriately trashy-looking and intimidating, while Jane Levy is a definite highlight of the bunch. Her character gets a few laughs, but also unleashes a fierce side during a show-stopping sequence. Gary Anthony Williams steals a few memorable moments as a stressed-out cop who’s even more stressed-out by Ruth’s presence…as he’s trying to devote his attention to much bigger cases. Though they’re only in the film for a couple of scenes, Christine Woods and Robert Longstreet are well-cast as a snobby rich couple.
As the plot moves along, I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE gets progressively darker. While the first two acts feel like a quirky darky-comedy had a baby with a gritty crime-thriller, the final third gets very violent and shocking. There are a few bits that elicited vocal reactions out of me and things neatly tie themselves together in an immensely satisfying conclusion. On top of all that, the cinematography looks stellar and the music perfectly accompanies the action (both the score and the soundtrack’s song choices).
I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE is filled with grim laughs, crazy dialogue (a villain rambles about devouring cats), shocking spurts of violence (mainly during the final third), and a never-ending sense of entertainment. The characters are relatable and fun to watch. There are moments that are sure to make viewers burst into laughter during one minute and then put their hand over their mouth in shock during the next. I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE is easily one of the best films I’ve sat through in 2017 so far! If you enjoy dark comedy, crime thrillers, or crazy combinations of those two genres (e.g. FARGO), then you’re guaranteed to have a great time with I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE!