When I first saw Elijah Wood in The Faculty (1998) I thought, this poor sod is going to by typecast for the rest of his life as the weakly nerd. I’m so glad I was wrong. When he starred in Sin City (2005) I remember thinking, “how fucking cool is this?! Frodo is a ninja!” I’m a fan of Wood’s independent film work, and although he was superb in this most recent role, this isn’t what interested me about I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore.
Macon Blair made his directorial debut with IDFAHITWA and it had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year in which it won the Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. Dramatic competition. It received its exclusive worldwide release on Netflix in February.
Melanie Lynskey impresses as depressed nurse Ruth and Elijah Wood makes for a great comedic sidekick. The two characters are clearly written to be very different from each other, but they play off each other very well. Never do they judge each other for their differences, they are simply two decent people who want to take matters into their own hands.
When I saw the trailer for IDFAHITWA it immediately peaked my interest, much in the same way God Bless America (2011) did, this film is a commentary on existentialism, bureaucracy, societal norms, morality and the divide between Gen Xers and Millennials. I felt a strong affinity with Ruth’s character, much like I did with Frank in GBA. Both are just so done with society’s shit.
Ruth: I don’t want a pay-off.
Chris Rumack: Well, then I’m confused. What do you want?
Ruth: For people to not be assholes.
Ruth and Tony are the losers, the underdogs who go vigilante. Ruth returns home from work and discovers that her house has been burglarised, when the police take little interest in the case, Ruth employs Tony as her sidekick, together they unravel the clues which inadvertently leads them into serious danger. This film is violent, but it is somewhat cushioned by the comedy which makes it much easier to stomach.
Macon Blair makes a small cameo in IDFAHITWA, I immediately recognised he was the actor who played Dwight from Blue Ruin (2013), which has a similar premise of justice and revenge. I imagine Blair was inspired by his role in Blue Ruin, also this film is quite similar in tone and style to the Coen Brother’s (Joel and Ethan) work, especially Fargo (1996).
Ruth and Tony’s characters are very likable, the film utilises pathos which kept me invested in their journey and I was rooting for them the whole way. IDFAHITWA is a dark comedy with some genuinely laugh out loud moments, and despite the violence and the existentialism, it concludes on an incredibly feel good note, which left me smiling.
I hope Blair will return to directing soon, he does have the film Hold the Dark (2018), which he has written and stars in, it is currently in post-production, whether this will stand up at all to Blue Ruin or IDFAHITWA, we’ll have to wait and see.