Having shot to recognition because of his stunning turn in Jeremy Saulnier's mesmeric lo-fi thriller Blue Ruin, it hasn't taken long for Macon Blair to step behind the camera himself with I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore. Despite it being his first time behind the camera, Macon Blair is able to create a patiently paced, intriguing comedy crime thriller that's tight and taut enough to eschew its cumbersome title. But while enjoyable enough to watch, I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore only ever really just dips its toes into the above genres. It's never side-splittingly funny, remarkably intense or astoundingly gripping, and its flirtation with each of the above creates a tone that's eerily reminiscent of other indie fare.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, as I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore keeps you just about engaged enough as it twists and turns its way through its 96 minute long running time. But it stops it short of being anywhere near memorable.
I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore revolves around Melanie Lynskey's Ruth, a socially awkward nursing assistant who returns home to find that her house has been burgled. Once she realizes that the police aren't going to assist her find her stolen laptop and grandmother's silverware, she takes it upon herself, with the help of her neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood), to try and find the robber, which leads to them getting mixed up with a gang of criminals.
With I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore, Macon Blair looks to make a passing comment on our treatment of others, as Ruth's idealism in her pursuit of revenge (she just wants to confront the robber and his behavior) juxtaposes against the cold, brutal world she finds herself wrapped up in. Rather than that being shoveled down our throats, these social themes bubble nicely underneath, and considering the state of the world today it feels oddly prescient.
Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood create a bizarre but effective tag-team, with Lynskey's droll but driven Ruth bouncing nicely off of Wood's eccentric and spirited Tony. Lynskey in particular is able to ground and bring a naturalism to the film, while she provides a perfect foil to Wood and is able to find a laugh when needed to, which she is able to achieve just through a look or an elongated pause. It's just a shame that the characters are a little too thinly written to truly resonate.
Macon Blair, who wrote as well as directed I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore, tries to push the film into absurdist, sometimes even slapstick comedic territory, but doesn't go nearly far enough. Instead, I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore is a rather simple story that has some peculiar, and shocking, twists and turns in it, but it never feels greater than the sum of its parts. It is nevertheless a sturdy directorial debut that reeks of potential, and it'll be intriguing to see what Macon Blair can do in the future behind the camera with something that has a little bit more bite.