The Daily Stream: Macon Blair's I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore Is All Too Relatable

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore"

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: After being burglarized, Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) is determined to find out who stole her grandmother's silver and medicine. However, she is jaded by society at-large and encounters daily situations that remind her of how lazy, selfish, and mean people can be. The robbery is just the cherry on top of her endless frustration and disappointment. The police won't help her or take her seriously nor will they support her taking matters into her own hands. However, she finds a glimmer of hope in an eccentric neighbor named Tony (played by Elijah Wood). Immediately on board to help Ruth, Tony accompanies her on a vigilante journey where almost everything goes wrong.

Why It's Essential Viewing

Unless you're a narcissist or a complete sociopath, there is a strong chance that you can relate to Ruth's character. You may not have been robbed before, but even just experiencing someone cutting you off in traffic or not covering their mouth when they sneeze can be an act of disgusting selfishness. Working as a nursing assistant, Ruth is used to helping people but is constantly disregarded, taken advantage of, and used. In a state of frustration while smoking a bowl with a friend to calm down, she laments "the way people treat each other, it's disgusting. They're disgusting. It's the taking, the fucking taking." And she's right. If there's one thing that is prevailing through this pandemic on a macroscopic scale besides Covid variant strains, it's selfishness. This is a central theme throughout Blair's film, but he is able to explore selfishness on deeper levels which challenge what it means to do the right thing or be a good person.

Despite Ruth's efforts to seek help from the police, she's just ignored and mocked. When she finally encounters the man who knows the robber responsible for stealing her belongings, he asks Ruth what exactly it is that she wants. An apology? Financial compensation? Once you're consistently let down by human beings and also victimized, what do you want? He tells her, "anyone can do anything they want if you let them; welcome to the world." Ruth responds that she just wants "for people to not be a**holes." It isn't rocket science and yet we all seem to be begging for this at the moment. While it's an unobtainable wish, sometimes people just need to share pain and loss with someone. Others may just want to be heard. If justice and revenge aren't possible, then a little help from a rare, decent person can go a long way. "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" typifies and validates all of these complex emotions and challenges with dark comedy as well as a delightful sidekick. This is where our beloved Elijah Wood comes into play. 

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Sporting a rat tail, and armed with a morning star and firecrackers, Tony is immediately there for Ruth. He's fair, just, and loyal in the most hilariously strange (yet adorable) way. He personifies what a neighbor should be and goes above and beyond by helping her. When Ruth says "I just need you to ride with me," Tony steps up with no questions asked. Once they hit a couple of breaks in the case, the two become an increasingly adorable pair. They celebrate the small wins by dancing around to music and drinking whiskey, and continue to plot their independent investigation with hope. 

Another admirable trait that Tony possesses is that he doesn't use his kindness as a weapon. There isn't a quid pro quo motive behind his actions. Instead, it's just the right thing to do and, ultimately, Ruth's experience "affects us all." He is the shining light in Ruth's traumatic experience even as they seep into more dangerous territory. In matters of life and death, they sacrifice everything for one another. Over time, their relationship borders romance but never entirely goes there. The duo have such a sweet dynamic and their actions towards one another reiterate how the smallest amount of kindness and gestures of love can go a long way.

After getting hurt in an altercation, Ruth asks "what are we doing ... here ... in the world?" Tony simply replies, "Trying to be good." It's wild how people complicate such a simple concept. Being good can be pretty easy, you just have to give a damn. "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" is a reflection of truly giving a damn, almost too much at times. This gem is timeless in its portrayal of the human condition both positive and negative. However, during a pandemic, the characters' experiences are increasingly tangible. This film is deceptively straightforward but filled but morals and lessons majority of the population are taught at a very young age. And like the film, the concept of good and evil gets obscured as time passes. However, for today, it's just a funny, f**ked up, and sweet reminder to not be an a**hole.