I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE. is not only the longest, most grammatically correct film title I have ever seen, but also marks writer/actor Macon Blair’s directorial debut. A Northern Virginia native, you may know Blair’s work from his acting projects BLUE RUIN and THE GREEN ROOM with writer/director Jeremy Saulnier. In fact, I DON’T FEEL AT HOME almost feels like a companion piece to Saulnier’s work, complete with crime, violence, and a striking amount of humor. But what Blair did that really made me pay attention and enjoy this film was writing a badass lead heroine… and making that heroine the amazing Melanie Lynskey.
I feel like it’s not Sundance unless there is a movie with Melanie Lynskey. I can always count on Lynskey to choose interesting, entertaining films and find ways to steal pretty much every scene. Ever since I first saw her in HEAVENLY CREATURES, her on-screen charisma was off the charts. But this time, much like in HEAVENLY CREATURES, there are no scenes for Lynskey to steal because she is the heart behind I DON’T FEEL AT HOME, where she is given 90 glorious minutes to shine. With such a dynamic script, that spans genres and has a shockingly bloody finale, Lynskey gives a career-best performance, showcasing her range as a comedic, dramatic, action star powerhouse. And did I mention she easily has the best American accent in Hollywood (she is from New Zealand). It’s easy to gush about Lynskey, who specializes in getting audiences to root for down-on-her-luck characters. Ruth, her character in this film, is no exception.
Ruth’s motto is “people are assholes” and once you see a day in her life, you can understand why she feels this way. Starting with her job as a nursing assistant, she regularly encounters death, and finds it difficult to cope with the fact that everyone eventually dies and ends up in the same place… even the assholes. Then we see her deal with many other relatable annoyances, like the person who cuts in front of you at the grocery store, or the person who spoils the ending of a book you’re reading. But the thing that really sends her over the edge (think a flavor of Michael Douglas in FALLING DOWN) is when she discovers her home was robbed, and her laptop and grandmother’s silverware were stolen.
This whole journey isn’t about her things being stolen; those items can be replaced. What really puts Ruth over the edge is the feeling of being violated, which comes with someone breaking into your home. This Ruth is not going to take it anymore. She’s not going to be the polite grocery shopper anymore. This time she is taking her vigilante fight to those “assholes” that deserve it. With little help from the police, an unexpected encounter with her ninjutsu-obsessed neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood) sets the righteously naive duo on a path of revenge, which ends in a bloody face-off against a dangerous trio of villains.
I DON’T FEEL AT HOME is a smart, well-written script that addresses many of the things you scream at the screen in a typical thriller. “Why don’t you call the police?!?!?” Well, Ruth did and they couldn’t do much within the confines of the law. I also loved Ruth’s character arc from one that passive aggressively seethes with rage at life’s annoyances, to someone that doesn’t put up with any f*ckery. I do think a certain snake scene was a little too over-the-top, but that’s only a minor criticism to an otherwise entertaining, original film.
It’s this type of indie-film creativity that you come to Sundance to revel in. And lucky you, you don’t have to wait too long to check it out yourself. Netflix has signed on to be the distributor on this film and it is releasing online on February 24. Here’s to hoping Lynskey and Blair get the acclaim they deserve for this film, and that we will see them on the Festival scene again next year!
My Review: B+