NETFLIX (2017)

 

Director: Macon Blair

 

Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, Devon Graye, Jane Levy, David Yow, Christine Woods, Robert Longstreet

“Have you ever eaten cat meat?”

 

The recipient of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Festival 2017, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore marks the feature debut of Macon Blair and jumped straight into the arms of Netflix – which nowadays isn’t such a bad thing. A slightly kooky comedy thriller, the movie stabs at the political black clouds in America and the general malaise that floods the streets – AKA the enormous bumlogs that exist to sully the world.

 

It’s a slice of bloody fun.

Nursing assistant Ruth (Lynskey) ends her shift with a dying racist patient and ends her day being burglarised. All in all, not great. Gone is her medication, laptop and Grandmother’s silverware, and the local police force, Detective William Bendix, seem more interested in informing her that she should be more careful in future with her security. Add to that, her neighbour Tony’s (Wood) dog keeps crapping over her front yard. Is everyone in the world a total arsehead? After an unsuccessful door to door enquiry, Ruth locates her laptop via a mobile app, and with no assistance from the police, Ruth enlists the only neighbour who showed any urgency, Tony, to help in retrieving the stolen goods, but their journey takes them down dangerous paths – right into a collision course with unsympathetic gang members Christian (Graye), Marshall (Yow) and Dez (Levy).

 

A strange blend of comedy, action and a hint of the thriller genre, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore unravels like a diet Coen Brothers picture. That’s not a negative, it’s a surprising positive. The movie flits between tones at will and just manages to connect them all together – there’s a lot of offbeat comedy, some fun, well-shot action and an unexpectedly tense cat-and-mouse game as Ruth’s home is burgled, but not too much of each to tip the balance into The Book of Henry territory.

 

Melanie Lynskey plays the role of Ruth with an understated confidence – one woman who just wants to live a simple life has to put up with oversized vehicles spewing out dirty fumes, dog crap, being cut up in queues and douchebags dishing out spoilers to books she is reading. This is the world we live in, and it literally is, there’s plenty of tossbags in the world nowadays. Lynskey’s comedic chops compliment the piece nicely and she is an affable, relatable lead. Wood (who never seems to give a bad performance) is hilarious as the rat-tailed, morning star armed neighbour, the self-proclaimed bad man so at odds with his actual image – his scenes are gold.

 

The movie leers towards full-action in the third act, but it still retains the off-the-wall charm that enhanced the previous acts. It’s fair to say that had the comedy not been in the movie, then it would have suffered ultimately. It’s comedy that needs to be seen and doesn’t come across well in the written word (dying elderly racists, filching garden decorations, cat meat, old antique dealers getting decked and, of course, the chemistry between the two leads) but the funnies and indeed the script/dialogue itself are entrenched in the independent spirit that the movie revels in.

 

Whereas the tones of the movie are never necessarily at odds with each other, there are elements that do almost send the movie off-rails. The villains are introduced with a fairly heavy hand, as are the rich parents (a stuffy lawyer and a desperate housewife, no less) of one of the baddies and the pure caricatures that Christine Woods and Robert Longstreet play is a weak point in the movie – not terrible, just weaker than the rest (Jane Levy is pretty bad ass, though). The plot itself is fairly predictable also, however, the journey from A to B to C takes some interesting paths and prevents the audience getting ahead of the story.

 

With one woman facing her own existential crisis and imploring people to “stop being assholes”, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore plays out like a fantasy to anyone who wishes they could fight back against the society that is seemingly out to get them. Lynskey is great in the lead, and Wood delivers another stand-out supporting performance in a movie that wears its weirdness with pride. It’s strange, fun, gory and interesting and well worth your time.

 

Now, back to the cat meat…

November 13th 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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