I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE.
Director: Macon Blair
Writer: Macon Blair
Stars: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow, Jane Levy, Devon Graye, Derek Mears, Robert Longstreet, Christine Woods
Between BLUE RUIN and GREEN ROOM, I know you’ve probably read my rants about the awesome talent of actor MACON BLAIR. I had no idea when I cued it up on Netflix, that I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE was actually Blair’s filmmaking debut. But I am so glad I saw it now, because if there was a question as to how much influence writer/director JEREMY SAULNIER had on Blair during their time spent working together, it has been sufficiently answered with this film. There has been a lot of influence on his writing and directing, and in a good way.
MELANIE LYNSKEY (HEAVENLY CREATURES) plays Ruth, a poor, sensitive soul who works in a hospice, who is just so sick of “people being assholes” to each other, it’s just tough for her to get through the day, let alone life itself. All of this is established in the brilliantly blackly funny opening five minutes of the movie. (With the title, taken from an old folk song, underscoring her entire rationale.) But if a world full of jackasses isn’t enough to contend with, after a particularly lousy day at work, Ruth comes home to find her house has been burgled, and her computer, her depression meds and worst of all, the heirloom flatware set left to her by her grandmother have all been taken. This is the “spoon” that broke the camel’s back for her.
Lucy decides to take matters into her own hands when the cops take a lackadaisical attitude towards helping, canvassing her neighborhood, questioning her neighbors, making a cast of one of the potential thief’s footprints, and even enlisting the help of her equally socially awkward neighbor, headbanger/martial-arts guru-wannabe Tony (a beautiful turn by MANIAC, SIN CITY and former LORD OF THE RINGS actor ELIJAH WOOD).
It turns out that Lucy and Tony make for one helluva team, once Tony stops letting his dog shit in her yard, (you had to be there.) These two unlikely heroes have some even more hysterical and unlikely misadventures, that wouldn’t be at all out of place in a Coen Brothers romp or an Elmore Leonard story, and where things go once they finally do locate the bad people responsible for the break-in at Lucy’s…well, I won’t spoil it for you here, but believe me: you will have to see it to believe it.
Lynskey and Wood have tremendous chemistry together, and make one of the best unexpected “dynamic duos” you could ever hope to see in a ‘crime dramedy’. And as the baddies, DAVID YOW (SOUTHBOUND) as Marshall, JANE LEVY (THE EVIL DEAD remake and DON’T BREATHE) as Dez, and DEVON GRAYE (the Showtime series DEXTER and 13 SINS) as Chris, make for one of the skeeviest trios you could ever hope not to run into.
Highlights include a very botched mission at a local pawn shop, the thieves’ encounter with genre fave DEREK MEARS as a character called – believe it or not – “Donkey Dick”, and a final confrontation in the forest which proves to be both suspenseful and funny, with a shocking if not surprising denouement.
Blair’s writing and direction here may have been partially inspired by the work of Saulnier, but his deft touch with characters and dialogue reveals a dark, wry sense of humor about the whole mess, unlike the two aforementioned films he was in as an actor, which had an atmosphere of mostly deadly seriousness to them both.
The most striking thing about I DON’T FEEL…, though, has to be the prescient way it tapped into the growing sense of disgust, dissatisfaction and disconnection that permeates the daily lives of those who are among both the ‘have-nots’ – of which Lucy and Tony are most definitely a part, and even with the “haves”, signified by the wealthy, bickering parents (CHRISTINE WOODS and ROBERT LONGSTREET) of the chief culprit behind the burglary that sets the wacky-yet-violent events in motion.
It’s extremely reflective of the “I-got-mine-so-FUCK-YOU-GET-YOUR-OWN” culture that has become part and parcel of the Trump era, even though it was made well before the outcome of the 2016 election (and released in 2017). Seemingly simple on the surface, it digs deeply into the pathology of that sentiment, and pretty much expresses what the “Lucy” in all of us wishes we could impress upon people in this all-too-tribalism-infected era: DON’T BE A DICK.
I will be there for anything else that Macon Blair does with bells on, and I hope that whatever subject or genre he chooses next, he will still preserve his knowingly winking view of the world that contains that healthy dose of cynicism yet compassion for everyone suffering from “the human condition.” For now, I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD merits the four-out-of-five stars that I feel it truly deserves.