Monday, 24 April 2017

Macon Blair - I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore

It is not my intention to provide spoilers for the coming film, but rather my purpose is to give an overall flavour as I do not want to spoil this film in any way. Moreover, all of my film blogs are an appreciation of the film's crafted by a wonderful Director and a thorough recommendation to suspend your disbelief and enjoy this cinematic creation.

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)

"Sometimes I feel I'm under a whirlpool and I can't breathe"

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017 and released exclusively via Netflix the following month, I watched Macon Blair's directorial debut purely by happy accident after listening to the film's co-star Elijah Wood in an entertaining podcast interview on and I was rather pleased I did as this film is a true gem and highly recommended. Supported by numerous important cameo performances from Gary Anthony Williams as highly strung Police Detective "William Bendix", Lee Eddy as "Angie" and Michelle Moreno as her young daughter "Jana", they are joined by a gaggle of further supporting performances from the debut writer and director himself Macon Blair as an awkward "Bar Dude" as well as crucial portrayals from Christine Woods as a hilariously bored housewife "Meredith Rumack", Robert Longstreet as her aloof husband "Chris Rumack" and their nefarious son "Christian", played well by Devon Graye. However, ostensibly this charmingly off kilter and awkwardly funny comedic drama is a two hander with two sublime central performances from Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood in a film of a simple yet effective premise: the victim of a burglary seeks both the return of their property and satisfying retribution for the distress caused and in so doing wreaks havoc along the way.

"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.

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