Nursing assistant Ruth comes home from work to discover her house has been burglarized. Missing are her laptop, her medication and her late aunt’s silverware set. But recovering the items is not enough. She also demands “for people not to be assholes.”

For the first two acts, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a bit more nuanced than your typical revenge movie. Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) reports the burglary to police, but it’s clear they aren’t going to do much about it, especially since she left her door unlocked. She spends the night at her friend’s house and one of the movie’s funnier scenes comes when Ruth breaks down in an existential crisis while reading her friend’s daughter a bedtime story.

3-5stars

She goes door-to-door in her neighbourhood to ask if anyone saw anything suspicious. Her neighbour Tony (Elijah Wood) is slight and a bit mousy but is also into martial arts and paramilitary weapons and subject to violent outbursts. Tony is what you’d get if John Goodman’s Walter and Steve Buscemi’s Donnie from The Big Lebowski were combined into one character. He is enraged when he finds out Ruth has been robbed, and later, when Ruth’s phone pings the location of her stolen laptop, she enlists Tony to come along for backup.

That’s where the cat and mouse game begins, as they track the stolen goods through various seedy locations and discover the person who broke in. The plot moves along pretty well as the characters spot clues and chase them down. Of course, it is utterly predictable that Ruth and Tony develop a romantic interest, but the way it’s presented is more realistic than the cliché deserves.

But by the third act, all nuance is gone. We are left with several ultra violent climactic scenes that remind you writer/director Macon Blair comes from the Jeremy Saulnier universe of Blue Ruin and Green Room, two movies where this kind of violence is more at home. There are two events near the end of the film where deus ex machina rears its ugly, convenient head. In fact, the first time I ever heard that concept explained, I was told it’s like when the writer needs a character to die so he just gets hits by a bus. (Which is exactly what happens to someone here.)

However, this is a very promising directorial debut from Macon Blair. There are certain stylistic choices that show he is a director in control of his craft. For example, see if you can spot the visual reference to the glowing briefcase in Pulp Fiction, used to illustrate a touching childhood memory. This plot, led by a strong female character and her earnest but bumbling sidekick, probably could have been resolved in a more interesting, less violent way, because he seems to be a talented enough director to pull it off.

Title I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Director Macon Blair
Writer Macon Blair
Runtime 93 minutes
Starring Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, Devon Graye
Production Film Science, XYZ Films, Netflix

 

 

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