Here’s a comic revenge thriller tapping into the general “people are jerks” zeitgeist and starring two character actors who have found the the sweet spot in the niche they find themselves in.
Melanie Lynskey has made her mark as the downtrodden “girl/woman who doesn’t get the guy,” an imprint pressed on her by TV’s “Two and a Half Men.” And Elijah Wood‘s post-Hobbit career has happily settled into quirky eccentrics with a dangerous streak.
“I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Any More” — the title is a variation of the old Carter Family country music song “I Can’t Feel at Home in This World Any More” — is actor turned writer-director Macon Blair’s violent essay on what happens when the put upon starting putting upon others.
Ruth (Lynskey) is a sad and lonely nursing assistant in suburban Portland, somebody who can’t help but notice what intolerant crones her elderly patients are, and what inconsiderate tools almost everyone else she meets turns out to be.
From the dolt barfly (Blair himself) who gives away plot spoilers to the fantasy novel she’s reading, to the pick-up-truck jerk “burning coal” — polluting as a political act, at a stoplight, to every creep who cuts in front of her in line at the grocery store, Ruth and we can see that we have morphed into an angry, incurious me-and-me-alone culture that put a narcissist just like us into the White House.
Even the cops who take her statement after her house has been robbed seem more interested in dismissing her victimhood and her loss than in living up to #bluelivesmatter.
“Why do you NOT want to help me?”
“The world is BIGGER than your (late grandma’s) silverware.”
But Ruth has a tracking ap on her stolen laptop. And when the indifferent 911 operator she calls won’t send police to check it out, she runs through the few people she knows to find someone to help her get it back.
That’s how she settles on Tony. In a neighborhood of gap-toothed perverts and cluelessly self-absorbed seniors, the rat-tailed goth-guy she yelled at for not cleaning up after his dog is her only hope.
“You can hit me, one strike…to balance the energy between us,” he offers, as a way of clearing up the whole dog-messing-her-lawn thing. No. She has bigger needs.
This is where Blair’s movie finds its surprises. There are two ways Tony’s nunchacku bravado can turn out when he confronts the people now in possession of Ruth’s computer. Blair finds a third, and it’s hilarious.
Ruth and Tony (and Tony’s elderly dog) track the stolen goods through the Dark Side of Portlandia (never identified as the location), spilling the blood (accidentally) of re-sellers of stolen goods, working their way towards the trio of thieves (Jane Levy of “Don’t Breathe” among them), including the rich punk (Devon Graye) we’ve seen commit crimes.
There are no “filler” characters or throw-away scenes in a 93 minute movie, and Blair finds giggles for almost everybody — especially the stepmom of the teen-thief. Christine Woods KILLS as a drawling drinker happy to tell these two idiots posing as cops everything she knows about her shady husband’s awful son.
Blair, who spent time on screen in the terrific “Green Room” and starred in “Blue Ruin,” keeps this fairly conventional story just surprising enough and his players make it just funny enough to hold our interest.
It had little chance of life in theaters, but as in other features that found their way to Netflix premieres, wherever there’s a captive, membership-paying audience, there’s hope for “little” movies with sharp, smart edges.
MPAA Rating: unrated, with graphic violence, profanity
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, Lee Eddy, Christine Woods, Devon Graye, Jane Levy
Credits:Written and directed by Macon Blair. An XYZ Films/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:33