Netflix is fast becoming not just a streaming service, but an outlet for truly original and refreshing movies featuring some impressive cast members and indeed filmmakers. It wasn’t so long ago that the service in the UK felt rather tame, even for the minimalistic fee, but now we are finding many more films coming our way under the ‘Netflix Original’ bracket that cannot be ignored. One film that certainly stood out from the crowd was the recently released I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, a film that featured at Sundance and is written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier collaborator Macon Blair.
Starring Togetherness‘ Melanie Lynskey, I Don’t Feel follows the everyday life of the very ordinary and rather depressed Ruth as she comes home from her less than fulfilling job at a care home to find that her house has been burgled. With her laptop, some medication and her grandma’s handed down silver having been taken, Ruth enlists the help of Elijah Wood’s metal-loving loner Tony who has a penchant for throwing stars and anything ninja-based.
As the pair uncover the clues to exactly who committed the crime, they find themselves sinking deeper into a scenario where their lives are well and truly set to be on the line and the stakes so much higher.
Blair’s directorial debut is certainly a film that will catch audience attention, if only for the sheer force and impact of its final third, but as a full entity it feels like a film not quite versed fully in a specific tone. Opening to play out as a hate letter to the world that we live in, the film then proceeds to take numerous pages out of other more notable directors’ style books and never quite manages to cohesively forge it into something impressive. The jokes are Coen-esque but all too often fall rather flat, and the influence of Saulnier is undoubtedly a key factor in what actually makes the film’s true essence tick.
For the first half, I Don’t Feel trudges along almost reliant upon the sadness of its main character and via a range of moderately funny jokes that prove to us that main character Ruth has every right to be depressed. It’s almost a message to us all that there really is no glamour to life whatsoever, with our kickstarter occurring when she shuns the law and proceeds to tackle criminals head-on with ultra-violence to follow. As viewers, the final third is supremely entertaining, with a barrage of violence, blood and brutality coming at us in similar fashion to a film such as Green Room, but it all feels rather misplaced and in-cohesive.
While Lynskey plays the everyday woman to superb effect (see Togetherness if you haven’t already), Wood feels almost underused in his capacity, and when our criminals come along for the ride, they simply feel under-developed and rather uninteresting to boot. That said, once their presence it felt, it’s almost as if the film shifts into a much higher gear and simply goes for it with all guns blazing. This makes for a simply fun and raucous treat, bringing a much darker tone to a film that had prior felt all over the shop.
I Don’t Feel is all too often completely misjudged in its presentation of tone and its overall core messages, but looks beyond a rather uninspiring first half and persevere to truly reap the rewards of Blair’s directorial talents. Clearly inspired by collaborator Jeremy Saulnier, the actor/director slams home a brutal and powerful final act that may well sway you in a more positive direction come the film’s close. Not quite a Netflix classic but well worth 90 minutes of your time.