From the Archives: Now Streaming: I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

From the Archives: Now Streaming: I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Genre fans are already familiar with Macon Blair, whose rich performances in Blue Ruin and Green Room have made him a bit of a cult icon. From his pug-like eyes to his non-assuming physique, Blair’s appearance betrays the fiery intensity of his character work. In Blue Ruin he transforms into a dispirited agent of vengeance (and delivers the most haunting piece of dialogue in recent memory — ask me and I’ll tell you what it is); In Green Room he brings pathos and dramatic density to a character that could’ve easily been empty (kudos also to Jeremy Saulnier for the writing on these as well). So it comes as no surprise that Blair’s writing/directing debut is bursting with nuanced character work. The film itself mirror’s Blair’s duality — on the surface it appears to be a typical revenge thriller, but once the film begins it becomes clear that I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore is a different beast entirely.

And since it’s a Netflix original — a term that has become a stamp of quality — you can watch it right now. You won’t be disappointed.

Not sold yet? Let me sell you harder.

First off, the film is short. No time for fat on this one, and it’s a good thing too. Certain ambiguities in the plot make the background characters mysterious without being inaccessible, which acts to make each player compelling while limiting narrative waste, further earning rewatch value. And the force which drives our heroine is one that anybody can get behind: she’s tired of people being assholes.

Played by Melanie Lynskey with a subdued gusto similar to that of the director, Ruth is simply over it. She’s over what she sees as a growing trend of selfishness and discourtesy. She’s over litterers, line-cutters, book-spoilers, and the complete lack of shame exhibited by guilty parties in the face of shameful behavior.

She’s over the people who ignore the sign in her yard reminding them to curb their dog.

“There shouldn’t have to BE a sign,” she laments.

After a particularly tough work day she comes home to find that her house has been burglarized and her computer stolen along with a few personal mementos of her late grandmother. She’s had enough. It’s not time for revenge, but it’s certainly time to dish out a scolding or two. It’s time for a victim’s voice to be heard, and if it requires a few ninja stars, as hurled by her eccentric neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood), so be it.

I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore moseys its way through the ethical roller coaster that informs most revenge tales, unafraid of descending into some pretty dark territory. But even as the film dips to some truly unsettling depths, there is an undercurrent of humor that keeps the film fresh, lively, and relatable, due heavily to an empathetic performance from Lynskey. She’s easy to root for, and her arc from meek and lackadaisical to strong and convicted is a delightfully colorful journey to behold.

Blair proved himself a savvy visual geographer by setting up shop in that comfy place between long takes and hyper cuts which is typically inhabited by bland films. Such is not the case with I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which is far from bland. A crackling energy simmers below the surface, always threatening to burst into flames. I must once again mirror this shaggy juxtaposition to Blair’s acting persona. This is a film made by a team who has done their homework, and it shows without showing off.


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