Tuesday, June 27, 2017

In short: I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)

This is the directorial debut – for Netflix - of Macon Blair whom you’ll probably know better as an actor, particularly from Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin and Green Room. I think Saulnier is a good comparison for what Blair does here as a director. At least, this one does take place in the same kind of world of sad American people existing somewhere on the edges of their society without being quite outside of it as Saulnier’s films, and to my eyes, their films belong to the same calmly yet effectively directed type of newish US indie film that might take place in comparable spaces to mumblecore but uses actual filmmaking techniques and realizes that movie dialogue that sounds exactly “like actual people talk” is boring and ineffective and goes for something that feels like actual people should talk but also wants it to actually have a point.

The film is a very dark comedy, in which nurse Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) finds herself the victim of a break-in that adds to her general feelings of disconnectedness and loneliness such a deep – and very concrete - feeling of violation that she ropes in a strange neighbour (Elijah Wood) to find the perpetrators and get her stuff back. Things quickly devolve into violence of increasing severity, though, until the climax is right out of a pretty grotesque (yet still darkly comical) revenge thriller.

This could be drab, or cynical, or simply unpleasantly making fun of unhappy people, but as Blair directs it, and Lynskey (who doesn’t settle for the likeable neurotic many actors would leave the role at but tends to add complexities when you least expect it) and the rest of the cast play it, the film is as sad as it is funny, observing a quiet kind of alienation and imagining the potential violent consequences while keeping empathy and compassion alive. Blair turns out to be particularly good at mixing standard tropes from different genres with more serious-minded observations until they turn into something more alive.

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