You might recognize Macon Blair from Gold, Green Room, and as the lead in Blue Ruin, but with this new Netflix release, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, we now get to experience (and cherish) him turning an assured hand at writing and directing a feature film. Tipping over the edge of comic, thrilling, good old fashioned drama, Blair’s debut is so refreshingly brilliant throughout it’s varied shifts in tone and pace, you can’t help but see that he feels at home behind both the camera and the typewriter. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore additionally provides Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood with roles they should arguably have been offered for the last fifteen plus years. Winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the movie has become a crowd favorite very quickly.
Melanie Lynskey plays Ruth, an ordinary woman with ample amounts of good nature repressed by an America losing its head and heart (sound familiar?). Ruth struggles socially as the people around her ruin plot points of a book, a patient dies on her, people cut in line at the store, let their dogs shit on her lawn – and if that were not bad enough she is burgled. As well as anti-depressants and irreplaceable family silverware, Ruth’s laptop is stolen, which propels her into her own form of justice when a device tracker cell phone app proves more useful than the blasé local law enforcement. Elijah Wood plays Tony, the dog owner who previously had run-ins with Ruth a la dog poop, who now seems to be the right fit to her mild vigilante side-kick – his martial-arts enthusiasm and rock music love are only part of his appeal. And as the pursuit escalates, as do the consequences, running along frenetically to a climax you did not see coming a mile off.
Blair’s handling of the film’s eclectic style is a majestic feat, and a truly marvelous treat for its audience. To see it is to experience as well as believe it, rather than luring you in with mentions of the karma displayed via a venomous snake, or the literal direction prompt from Ruth’s departed grandmother. That said, never does the movie spiral off into ridicule or fantasy, rather provide hilarious and absurd stepping stones of compelling story-telling and pure cinematic entertainment (a rightfully grand compliment given its Netflix release). There are violent moments scattered, but surprise you, and the casual, black humor has its appropriate place too – Ruth digging into a cereal box for a toy badge to impersonate a cop is both genuinely funny and character-suited. The avoidance of romance yet subtle chemistry between Ruth and Tony makes for an original on-screen partnership that ticks all the right boxes. Wood is terrific as the flamboyant neighbor who just wants to help, but this is Lynskey’s picture, as the socially awkward woman with a heart for what’s right and fire in her belly, this surely must have been written specifically for her.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is on Netflix now, so once you’ve seen it you can add it to your Best Films of 2017 list.