I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore (Netflix)
My flatmate's been out of town for a few days, which has encouraged me to use the sofa in our living room a bit more often. This has never been an issue between us, she likes to stretch out on the sofa while I take the kitchen table. But these past few evenings alone in the flat have made the sofa seem more alluring, and so I lie there, watching movies I never normally would on my laptop.
I didn't know what to expect with I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017), but the title is hard not to notice. Do I feel this way too? Sometimes, I wonder where my life is heading. I'm guessing I might be spending the rest of my future alone. This is better than being stuck in a loveless marriage, but existential questions arise from time to time (how can they not?). Issues of being single and dying alone, of facing old age without a pension, and the ultimate: what does oblivion feel like? What will the Earth be like, without me here?
The film itself, a Sundance award-winner, features Melanie Lynskey's thirty-something singleton, Ruth, asking some of these questions while being caught up in crime. She returns one day to find her house having been burgled. Feeling that sense of violation that burglary conjures, she goes door to door, befriending a slightly unhinged-looking neighbour (played by Elijah Wood), who agrees to help her track down the thieves. This brings them into contact with dangerous people, but also allows the two protagonists to form the kind of companionship missing from their respective lives.
Lynskey's Ruth is a brilliant character, and Wood also convincingly captures a socially awkward, well-meaning nerd who's spent too much time on their own. They both are good people; they both also appear destined to spend their future decades alone, unfulfilled and increasingly eccentric. Ruth, in addition has a best friend who has settled down with a husband and child, living the life Ruth values as a mark of success. Yet in one of several nuanced touches, the best friend's husband appears to resent her, thinking her slightly unhinged. This place of normality, this refuge for Ruth, has only a partial welcome for her.
Again, it's difficult not to sympathize with Ruth's confrontation of a social ideal, of coupled friends and their children, living the life you know your parents wanted for you. The life that you probably expected for yourself. That wholesome image slowly retreating from you, year by year. But also, of course, a characteristic effect of the grass always being greener.I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore is a gentle exploration of all these things within an enjoyably tense narrative, its ending happy enough to satisfy, though also leaving you with a melancholic paradox: that even if this world doesn't often feel wonderful, it's the only one we've got, and we cling to it for as long as our fragile, temporary existence allows, hoping good people will enter our lives.