Movie Review - I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

While writer-director Macon Blair in his first feature controlling the behind-the-scenes isn't as strong as Joel and Ethan Coen or Jeremy Saulnier, Blair's debut film as auteur does echo No Country For Old Men (2007) and Blue Ruin (2014). What's clever is that Blair makes his protagonist a woman, but what isn't clever is how he pairs his protagonist with a man. The Coens didn't give their protagonist a sidekick. Saulnier didn't give his protagonist a sidekick. For Blair to give his protagonist a sidekick weakens her in a way or at least suggests she needs it whereas the Coens or Saulnier's characters didn't. The only difference between those movies and this one is that she's a woman and having her paired up throughout only diverts attention from her.

Melanie Lynskey (Two And a Half Men and Togetherness) stars as Ruth, a nurse that works in Portland who has had enough of people behaving like assholes or jerks. The movie opens and proceeds to show Ruth encountering person after person who behaves like a jerk. Whether it's a person making racist comments or it's a person revealing spoilers or it's a person who doesn't clean up his dog's defecation, Ruth just keeps encountering jerks.

She has her last straw when her house gets robbed and her laptop and grandmother's silver get stolen. The movie follows as she tries to find her stuff and track down the person who is the thief. The second act of this movie is funny as Ruth becomes amateur detective at the same time exposing the apathy of police, or the police's blind-spot to certain things. Its spoof of the Portland Police Department seems stereotypically off-base. Maybe Blair's depiction is spot-on in some way, but the scenes with Ruth and the police come off as contrived and there only to propel the plot and nothing else.

There are a lot of quirky characters in this movie, but, unlike Blue Ruin or No Country For Old Men, the quirky characters don't seem organic to the environment or situations. The quirky characters here come off as contrived like Ruth's sidekick Tony, played by Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). He just felt so out of place. It doesn't help that Blair switches perspectives away from Ruth and puts us into the shoes of the thief she's chasing but doesn't do much to put us into his head.

Devon Graye (13 Sins and Last Weekend) co-stars as Christian, the thief in question. The movie puts us into his shoes. Blair literally makes the first thing we see of Christian is his shoes. We then proceed to follow him. We're given a slight sense of who he is, but Blair never truly dives into him as a character, what his motivation is or what his back-story is. Blair then quickly dispatches him, as if he were just a plot-point to get past.

The third act then becomes just a botched crime drama with some black humor. If that's what Blair was building toward, then it's fine, but the mechanics of how things go crazy should be overwhelming. It wasn't all that overwhelming or exciting. The final action scene is a bit clunky and feels like something out of an episode of Three Stooges, which might be a compliment to Blair. He might not want the seriousness of Saulnier and the Coen brothers.

This might explain all the quirky characters like Tony. The problem is that those characters are only surface-level or superficially drawn. By the end, I just didn't care about any of the people involved. Even Ruth gets lost in the shuffle here.

Rated TV-MA.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 36 mins.
Available on Netflix.


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