(With the Sundance Film Festival currently taking place in Colorado, I am currently reviewing films that originally made a splash at Sundance!)
This is a sad story.
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore created quite a stir when it premiered at Sundance last year. It may be hard to believe but, for a brief while, this film has just as much Sundance buzz as both Mudbound and Get Out. It even won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, which has helped to launch many independent films into the public consciousness.
So, why isn’t I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore a better known film?
Unfortunately, the distribution rights for this film were purchased by Netflix. With very little fanfare and, as far as I can tell, not even the briefest of theatrical releases, Netflix started streaming I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore on February 24th. With Netflix putting most of its promotional muscle behind Mudbound, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore has been somewhat overlooked. You can watch it, of course. You can go on Netflix and you’ll find it sitting there with Sandy Wexler and maybe a Uwe Boll dragon movie. Obviously, some distribution is better than no distribution and I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore is probably too quirky of a movie to have ever set the box office on fire but still, it’s hard not to feel that this movie deserved better.
It tells the story of Ruth (Melanie Lynesky), a nursing assistant who is having a bad day. One her patients dies. She has to deal with an elderly racist. She gets stuck in traffic and can only watch helplessly as a truck spews toxic exhaust into the environment. When she stops off at a bar and tries to read book, a stranger casually tells her how the it ends. As you can guess from the film’s title, this is not the world in which Ruth wants to live. While she’s not the type to demand perfection, would it kill people to be just a little bit considerate?
Things get even worse when Ruth returns home and discovers that someone has broken into her house. Whoever it was didn’t get away with much, just some medication, some silverware, and Ruth’s laptop. The police are indifferent and basically blame Ruth, telling her that it’s her own fault for leaving her door unlocked. Her neighbors are even less helpful, all claiming that they didn’t see anyone breaking into Ruth’s house. No one seems to care.
No one but Tony.
Tony (who is played by Elijah Wood) is one of Ruth’s neighbors. He likes to listen to heavy metal music. He likes to work out. He claims to be an expert in martial arts. We’ve all known someone like Tony. However, it turns out that Tony is the only person as upset about the break-in as Ruth is.
Tony and Ruth work together to try to track down Ruth’s stuff. It starts out fairly simple but then gets progressively more complicated (and violent) as things go on. Ruth and Tony become unlikely heroes. (In one of the film’s more memorable moments, Ruth witnesses a sudden burst of violence and reacts by throwing up.) The world may tell Ruth and Tony that they should just accept things the way that they are but Ruth and Tony aren’t willing to do that…
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore was directed by Macon Blair, who previously starred in the thematically similar Blue Ruin. It’s not a perfect film, of course. There are a few uneven moments but, overall, the film is strong enough that I can’t wait to see what Blair follows it up with. The best thing about the film is that it provides lead roles to Melanie Lynesky and Elijah Wood, two quirky and appealing actors who rarely seem to get the parts that they really deserve. As played by Lynesky and Wood, both Ruth and Tony are so likable and sincere in their desire to make the world a better place that you can’t help but wish the best for both of them.
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore is a good film and definitely one that deserves more attention than it’s received. It’s on Netflix so, the next time you’re trying to decide what to watch, why not take a chance on it?
Previous Sundance Film Reviews: