Directed by: Macon Blair
Premise: A woman (Melanie Lynskey) struggles with the rudeness and stupidity of everyone around her. After her house is burglarized, she teams with an eccentric neighbor (Elijah Wood) to track down her lost items.
What Works: I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is an unusual film with unique characters. The picture is led by Melanie Lynskey as a nurse who suffers one indignity after another as the people she encounters are thoughtless or rude. Lynskey is an appealing protagonist. Like Joel Murray’s performance in God Bless America, Lynskey has an everyday quality and she captures the feeling of exasperation that so many people experience in this day and age. She is fundamentally good and just expects the rest of the world to show her a little courtesy and Lynskey’s character is frustrated when that doesn’t happen. That’s a popular motif in the movies and in American culture at this particular moment and the film captures that well. Unlike similar stories, Lynskey’s character desires justice as opposed to revenge. She wants her stolen items returned and to see the thieves punished. But life doesn’t work out that way and so she takes matters into her own hands. Lynskey’s character pairs with a colorful neighbor played by Elijah Wood. He does these kinds of oddball roles very well and a lot of the comic bits are assigned to him. Wood makes a strange and initially unpleasant character into someone who is likable and it’s a credit to Wood that he’s able to invest the audience in the fate of his character and his relationship with his new friend. As they investigate the robbery, Lynskey and Wood’s characters stumble into a bigger criminal enterprise. In doing so, the filmmakers of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore imitate a lot of crime films and superhero stories in which the real villain is discovered to be bigger and more malevolent than originally imagined. But the distinct characters, off kilter humor, and unique tone of this movie keeps it from every feeling cliché. And by its end, viewers are left with a story that is not only unique and entertaining but also adumbrates something true about contemporary life.
What Doesn’t: As its title implies, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is strange. The movie veers from everyday drama to offbeat comedy to harsh violence. The radical shifts in tone are deliberate on the filmmakers’ part but they may be off putting to some viewers. The plotting relies on a number of coincidences with characters arriving in places at convenient times or making leaps of logic that get them to the next plot point. The villains of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore are underused. The movie is on the verge of doing something really interesting and potentially impactful with the crew of robbers and especially a troubled young man played by Devon Graye but the story doesn’t spend enough time with him to accomplish that.
DVD extras: Currently available on Netflix.
Bottom Line: I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a strange movie but there is an intelligence and good heartedness at the center of the picture. Its underlying structure may be familiar but the filmmakers put a new spin on it that makes everything fresh.
Episode: #690 (March 18, 2018)