I wanted to watch this movie the minute I saw the title. I knew nothing about the story or the filmmaker, I just related to the sentiment. Turns out, the lead character has a grievance that specifically mirrors mine (and that of many others I’m sure) – how it seems everyone just acts like an asshole these days.
Ruth (Melanie Lynskey), a nursing assistant in her thirties, goes about life feeling more and more despondent at the casual assholery that seems to be prevalent all around. Cutting in line at the grocery store, giving away the endings of books, leaving dog poop in a neighbour’s yard. On the surface these seem like trivial matters but being subjected to an endless barrage of them is enough to make one lose faith in humanity. Or get really really mad which Ruth does after her house is broken into. The cops aren’t really concerned – all she lost was her laptop, some medication and her grandmother’s silver. They are also a little accusatory. Ruth can’t remember if she accidentally left her back door unlocked, in effect ‘inviting the burglar right in’.
But Ruth has had enough. She is done letting people walk all over each other and her. When her laptop finder app locates the laptop but the cops won’t do anything about it without a search warrant, she decides to go retrieve it herself. With backup of course. That comes in the form of her socially awkward neighbour, Tony (Elijah Wood), who she only recently reprimanded for the dog poop incident mentioned earlier. Tony is even more mad about the robbery than Ruth is and insists on coming along for the ride.
What follows is a tumble down a rabbit hole that escalates to (or devolves into, you decide) a series of increasingly high-stakes events involving the petty thieves, some insane criminals, a nunchaku, guns, and ultraviolence of the kind normally witnessed in Asian movies.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from this film because it seemed like it would be absurd and goofy, which it was, but it was also more than that. Without shining too obvious a spotlight on it, it was a comment on society. It had the satisfying heft of a crime thriller and in some parts, a horror movie, with solid acting and dialogue. Lynskey was good, as usual, but it was Wood who really stood out for me. His intense, earnest, zero-to-hundred-in-a-minute character was highly entertaining and memorable. This movie was a Sundance favourite and I can see why. It steers clear of self-indulgence while committing fully to the crazy vision of a story like this. Writer/Director Macon Blair does not hold back and I’m really glad I watched this one.
I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore is now streaming on Netflix.