I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore

Melanie Lynskey stars in this tongue-in-cheek vigilante movie and Netflix original about taking charge of your life and standing up to jerks.

I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore Poster“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. Continue reading “I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore”

Blue Ruin

Jeremy Saulnier’s indie drama resembles Coen Brothers classics and Greek tragedy.

Vengeance is not for the weak, the inexperienced or the unprepared, and yet so many are drawn to it, and just as many fail. “Blue Ruin” is about a man too careful and timid to get himself killed but not nearly clever, resourceful or vicious enough to get himself out of trouble. Jeremy Saulnier’s film speaks to our constant struggle for survival in an urban world contained within a minimal Greek tragedy. It’s one of the finest surprise indie films of the year.

“I’d forgive you if you were crazy, but you’re not; you’re weak.” Those are the harsh words Dwight (Macon Blair) receives upon returning home to his wife Sam (Amy Hargreaves). For months he’s been living as a vagrant along the beach, rummaging for half eaten food at carnivals and sleeping in cars. Dwight’s hair is long and filthy, his beard consuming his face. Though the movie doesn’t specifically say, he’s on the run from his own past. When a police officer informs him that a man named Wade Cleland is being released from prison, Dwight follows Cleland home and plots to murder him in retaliation for killing his parents years ago.

Dwight is so helpless that he can’t even steal a gun. When he manages to scrounge up a knife, his stealth attack is clumsy and a bloody mess, and his getaway is even worse. Soon the Cleland clan is after him, staking out his family’s home and tracking his every move. His idiocy often gets the better of him, yet somehow he manages to stay alive.

“Blue Ruin” has a quiet tension and careful, close-to-the chest filmmaking that recreates the best of neo-noir from “Drive” to “No Country for Old Men” to the Coen Brothers classic “Blood Simple.” And yet along with Macon Blair’s timid, feeble performance is a delirious sense that this guy is never in control. When he shaves his beard and hair and tries acclimating to society, he looks pitiful and out of place in his own clothes.

He’s trying so hard that he’s almost comically clueless. While trying to badger answers out of a Cleland gang member he’s taken hostage, he gets too close and has his gun stolen away from him. But the changing, ambivalent tone leads to some of the movie’s biggest surprise deaths and shocking acts of spite and hatred coming from this otherwise nervously crippled man.

Yet unlike something like “No Country” or “Drive”, “Blue Ruin” and Saulnier recognize that even these vindictive, backwards hicks are people he’s dealing with. They’re just as timid, just as vulnerable in their homes, just as impulsive to the trigger and just as reluctant to get future generations caught in the same mess.

The film does not end well for anyone involved, but it’s a powerful ending that speaks to how vengeance, hate and the unpredictable messiness of it all can only lead to a foregone conclusion.

3 ½ stars