“I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore” is reading my mind. Not quite a year back my apartment was robbed. Someone walked into my living room while I was asleep one room over and grabbed my phone, wallet and guitar, then walked out. The cops were quick to point out that there was no sign of forced entry, so I must have left my door unlocked that evening. And I also didn’t have renters insurance. Tough luck, be more careful.
Some time later, I even got a notification from Find My iPhone that my phone had been located. It was just a few blocks away! I can see it!
Macon Blair’s film imagines what would happen if, unlike me, you didn’t just pass along the information to the cops and did nothing, but instead took matters into your own hands. It’s a tongue-in-cheek vigilante movie from a guy who played an equally hapless vigilante in Jeremy Saulnier’s “Blue Ruin.” “I Don’t Feel At Home” takes its character through cathartic growth, but it also comments on the frustration people feel when the world seems to be imploding around them.
Melanie Lynskey stars as Ruth, who goes through her day politely irritated by how everyone in the world seems to be an insensitive asshole, or as she puts it in a weaker moment later, “dildos” and “fuck faces.” One guy aggressively spews exhaust from his monster truck. Another leaves food on the aisle floor of a grocery store. A third ends up spoiling a book she’s reading. A dog keeps shitting in her yard. There are ants everywhere in her house. And now she’s been robbed. Deal with it.
These annoyances range from big to small, but they add up. Blair successfully inspires the idea that it’s okay to be angry and frustrated, to not just let it go, to not simply be doormats and allow every jerk to walk over you. Ruth ends up enlisting the help of a would-be tough guy named Tony (Elijah Wood). He blares heavy metal, pumps iron in his backyard and has throwing stars lying around, but he wears Dwight Schrute glasses, has a skinny frame and is even shorter than Ruth. It underscores just how hilariously out of their league they both are in seeking vengeance. They take action to track down Ruth’s missing belongings and confront the guy who broke in, only to get roped into a deeper crime ring.
“I Don’t Feel At Home” is funny, but not cynical. Bobcat Goldthwaite’s “God Bless America” has a similar vigilante premise with a guy fed up with repellent personalities. But that film resorts to a bloody shooting spree. “I Don’t Feel At Home” doesn’t just turn to anarchy as a bleak response to all the awfulness in the world. At one point Ruth impulsively steals a lawn ornament from a selfish, rich lawyer, but Tony gives her grief and explains that wasn’t the right thing to do. Blair’s characters stay true to their morals, and the movie’s more fun as a result.
Don’t let anyone tell you this is just the way the world is, or that your problems aren’t big enough. “I Don’t Feel At Home” gives the power back to the good people.
3 ½ stars