"Ruth" (Melanie Lynskey) Depressed and lost in a fug of melancholia, Ruth is totally at odds with the world around her. Living in a rundown house and working as a nursing assistant she drinks heavily to blank out a world that is passing her by and a world in which she is constantly irritated and exasperated by. Ruth is socially awkward and often lost in faraway wistful stares into the distance but it's evidently clear that she has a heart of gold and above all an altruistic nature but life has conspired to see she has lost sight of both. Ruth feels to me like a caged bird, desperate for meaningful social interaction but downtrodden and at odds with life as on the one hand she talks of the beauty of the universe and that we are all made of carbon and "stardust" and yet she views the people she meets and those around her as "fuckfaces" and "the way people treat each other is disgusting". When Ruth returns to her home to find that it's been burgled she has inadvertently stumbled upon a new purpose in life to track down those responsible and the return of her property and never has the world seemed so exciting to this amateur vigilante!
Ruth grows along with the film as we see far more sides to her nature than is first apparent and this is to the great credit of writer/director Macon Blair and importantly the portrayal from Melanie Lynskey which ranges from heartbreaking to joyous, tragic to triumphant and Lynskey deserves enormous praise for a portrayal that will draw so much sympathy from it's audience.
"Tony" (Elijah Wood) Neighbour of Ruth's and an almost mirror of her social awkwardness and inability to fit in the world that surrounds him, Tony takes comfort in heavy metal music, a fascination with the dark arts of Kung Fu and his dog Kevin! Tony is a conflicted social being, quietly passive aggressive as well as full on hyper antagonistic and a perfect foil for his new found friend and neighbour. Clad in oversized glasses and sporting a beard and a rat tail, Elijah Wood is almost unrecognisable in his role as Tony and with a performance that proves he is far from the stereotyped and one dimensional character actor he has often been unfairly labelled as. His performance here reminds me of the shadowy and awkward portrayals he excelled with as Kevin in Sin City or Patrick in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and his portrayal of Tony here is in the same exalted company.
I don't feel at home in this world anymore starts out from a simple premise of retribution and revenge and of gaining a semblance of sanity and order in the world but soon comically escalates until a third Act that takes a left turn into the surreal and macabre, but if you suspend your disbelief and go with the story you may be pleasantly surprised. I loved this film for a variety of reasons, the about turn in the narrative as loosely described above, the brilliantly comedic screenplay epitomised by Ruth's rant about the world to young child Jana (who's startled expression is absolutely priceless!) and a cast of oddball characters with whom I saw so much of myself in every one of them, from Ruth's antipathy at the world to Detective Bendix's need for rules to be strictly followed through to Tony's awkward tip toeing through a life that perplexes him. Part comedy, part drama and with a large dose of the macabre to finish with, I smiled all the way through this brilliant film that has a beautiful soundtrack accompanying two sublime central performances.