I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
2017. Directed by Macon Blair.
The casualty of self absorption is often common courtesy, with the hallmarks of charity being forsaken on the altar of fast paced living. Macon Blair’s pugnacious directorial debut, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore frames the grand questions of existence in a bluesy package, filled with inept criminal mayhem, a twisting nosedive into violence, and an endearing pair of performances by its two leading actors.
Melanie Lynskey’s central performance is both a totemic representation of the ignored and exploited and a cheer inducing portrayal of a woman who finally hits her limit. The story revolves around a depressed nurse whose breaking point involves a peculiar robbery that leads her on a mission of revenge that rapidly spirals out of control. Lumet’s Network is anchored by Peter Finch’s televised dissent in a post Watergate world, while Lynskey’s medicated ferocity is the perfect satirical remedy for the digital age. Comparisons with the Coen Brothers are unavoidable, as the entire premise hinges upon normal people becoming involved in extraordinary circumstances, however Lynskey’s wry understanding of Blair’s surprisingly poignant script is sensational. She is the person in the express lane who complains out loud when someone pulls out a checkbook. She is the rage in your head when someone won’t pull forward enough to let you get into the turn lane. She is the sum of every real and imagined sleight that we endure on a daily basis, and she is the viewer, a deeply flawed human who has the possibility for greatness. Lynskey is a spinning wheel of emotional resonance blending the sadness of insatiable anger and the unmistakable satisfaction of doing the right thing, regardless of the cost.
Elijah Wood supports as a quirky, Kung Fu wielding neighbor who balances the furnace of his personal anger with the calm of shared spirituality. His chemistry with Lynskey is a platonic oddity, a potent ingredient for the bizarre microcosm on display, Jane Levy (Don’t Breathe) has a dark turn as a trailer park disciple that keeps the roiling narrative grounded in the dangerous plausibility of a caper gone wrong. This is the essence of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. The unfettered bliss of finally lashing out at the world always ends and reality has a nasty way of reminding you how important your normality is. This concept is enhanced by Brooke and Will Blair’s soundtrack that offsets the humor with deep, brooding tones which hold the promise of the violence to come.
Larkin Seiple’s cinematography has a dime store quality that is perfectly at home in the world Blair has created around his criminal miscreants and Samaritans gone awry. Grungy blues and exhausted browns flood the screen, while shadowy, reverse shots in doorways put the impending malice on display. The deep greens of the Oregonian wilderness are shot with interesting light combinations that enrich the mysterious idea of providence that hangs over the final act. Everything is detached, with even the film’s most endearing moments framed at arm’s length. On the surface this film says go away, but beyond the bellicose presentation lies a warm fable about loving oneself that is undeniably inviting.
Available on Netflix now, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore won the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival. This is a film that is not for everyone. Its characters are extremely odd (making them even more human) and the plot borders on fantastical, turning the dials of the crime genre on their head, displaying the misfit backyard of Macon Blair’s mischievous subconscious, a place I am eager to return to. If you’re looking for a film that will make you laugh and cringe in equal amounts, all the while reminding you of the importance of contentedness, this will not disappoint.