Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sundance with Abe: I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the fourth time. I had the chance to see a number of films and will be posting reviews of everything I see!

I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore
Directed by Macon Blair
U.S. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize Winner

There’s an important lesson to be learned when you see a movie that isn’t anything at all what you’re expecting. As a rule, I try to read as little as possible about a film before I go into it, and when I need to select films to catch at festivals like Sundance, a quick glance at the cast and a check that it’s not a horror movie are usually enough. Melanie Lynskey has delivered great performances over the past few years in dramatic comedies, and so it stands to reason that her latest effort would fall somewhere between Tribeca’s “Little Boxes” and HBO’s “Togetherness.” I was, therefore, in for a rude – and very bloody – awakening when I sat down to watch her latest film, which is something altogether different.

Ruth (Lynskey) isn’t particularly happy with her life. She works as a nursing assistant and spends time around miserable people, and she lives alone in a small house. When she returns home one night to find her door open and her computer missing, along with some inherited china from her grandmother, she decides that she can’t take it any longer. After a detective refuses to indulge her, she turns to her bizarre neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood) for help in tracking down her missing items. Soon she finds herself embroiled with a trio of dangerous criminals (Devon Graye, Jane Levy, and David Yow) and ready to go head-to-head with these vicious people to make them understand that they can’t mess with her.

“I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore” belongs to a certain genre of film that thrives on celebrating chaos and violence. It’s akin to a much, much more comedic version of “Cold in July” where people are inherently evil and it’s just a matter of how much people stand for that or let it happen out of sheer terror. Ruth is relatively sheepish, but her ability to track her computer’s location on her phone gives the courage to go to the address and, with Todd’s help in the film’s most hilarious scene, break down the door and demand it back. There is little trace of reality here, but that’s not the point.

Lynskey is usually great in whatever she does, so clearly she wanted a break from the milder romance-based dramedies that she had been doing, and this is the result. Wood is perfect both on paper and on screen as Tony, imbuing him with a furious passion for theatrics and for doing what he believes is right, even if his communication skills could be greatly improved. This film is an absurd exercise, one that triggered applause and audience gasps during a number of its violent moments. It’s a head trip, but ultimately one that anyone who actually bothers to read the description and thinks he or she might like will probably enjoy.


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