I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE Review
Director: Macon Blair
Many citizens of the United States have had their worlds turned upside down in this recent socio-political climate. Cue first-time director Macon Blair, who has left the producer/actor chair to get behind the camera for once. With gusto and confidence, Blair delivers a dark comedy-turned-thriller in his feature outing I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE. Much like Michael Douglas in 1993’s indelible FALLING DOWN, lead actress Melanie Lynskey gives it her all as she goes through extreme daily struggles until she’s had enough. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance last month, now being released as a Netflix original, this 2017 thriller is a must-see for your late night streamed viewing.
Lynskey delivers a powerful performance, one in which she is frustrated with the her surroundings and takes matters into her own hands: talk about an empowered female lead! Her character’s actions are a bit absurd, but her portrayal makes them believable. Elijah Wood serves as her eccentric sidekick after a rocky start to their relationship. He is successfully awkward but crazy enough to get the job done, forming a uniquely charming relationship with Lynskey in the process. Supporting actors Devon Graye, Jane Levy, David Yow, and Gary Anthony Williams deliver the goods as well, but unfortunately there’s nothing too noteworthy at hand when it comes to them. Starting off on a hilarious, meaningful, and dark moment, Lynskey, a nurse, witnesses her revoltingly racist patient die as she proclaims her opinions on society in a moment that makes the audience laugh at death (get ready for more down the line). This is soon to be followed by another dark comedic moment, and another, and another. As Lynskey and her neighbor (played by Elijah Wood) are having a breakthrough in their search for a home invader, Wood opens his computer to porn. These moments give us comedic release from Lynskey’s dreadful world, but also serve to remind us that nobody is perfect.
When you’re just over it
The amount of desperation in this film is not all too different from Vittoria De Sica’s timeless BICYCLE THIEVES, particularly in the first half. The protagonist is desperate for people not to be assholes, the thieves are desperate for drugs, the housewife for a release from her boring life, and even the cop has a mental breakdown! Another theme similar to BICYCLE THIEVES is the idea that one lawbreaker creates another. The thieves steal from Lynskey, which creates her spiral into violence and crime. This film also has aspects similar to neo-realism, with the man-against-society motif, but this is quickly snowballed into a surreal, vulgar brutality. All of these characters are selfishly defensive and when one tries to seek help from the police, nothing is accomplished. Speaking of the police, it was interesting that everyone in this film was white except the cop. This is particularly compelling considering the way the opening scene frames riots committed by black Americans.
From irony to surprise, this 2017 thriller uses narrative techniques to throw the audience out of their comfort zone. The irony that the man stealing from all these innocent people comes from a privileged lifestyle makes for clever social commentary. It brings out the absurdity of what drugs can do to someone, but also opens a discussion on the rich stealing from the poor. The surprise turn of events is a curveball to say the least. The violence comes out of nowhere and exploded on screen in an unorthodox but still enjoyable fashion. This knack for morbid brutality is similar to that of director Jeremy Saulnier, a man who Macon Blair has regularly worked with. Blair produced and acted in Saulnier’s GREEN ROOM and BLUE RUIN. I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE can be compared to Saulnier’s film as similar in plot, but more comedic in delivery.
“What the hell is going on here?”
With its peculiarly happy ending, the thrillful lawbreaking streak doesn’t really change anything in the world of Lynskey’s character. Despite this, she does gain a relationship and a new outlook on life. The cinematography is beautiful in a simple way, and Blair’s confident presentation is indicative of great potential. I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE serves as an endearing story of a woman going mad in a perplexing world none of us can really figure out. The humor is tuned to a T, and Blair breathes his own comedic energy into a film that is heavily indebted to the works of Saulnier. Don’t let the depressing atmosphere fool you, this 2017 thriller has enough humor to ease the mood. Perfect for Netflix, it may not be a first choice at the theatres, but as a streaming experience, it is a fun, thought-provoking watch that is not to be missed.