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I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore Explained

I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore Discussed and Ending Explained - or how this movie is the perfect anecdote to a post Trumpian world. IMDB
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I wrote this review up once before. Right after its Grand Jury Prize win at the Sundance Film Festival. I mean, that was enough for me to love it right there. But it also had Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Woods… so, yeah. But I don’t re-write. I just don’t. If my blog eats a post (which is exactly what happened here) then the gods have spoken. The world doesn’t need to know what I think about that particular movie. Just isn’t important enough. And yet, here I am, rewriting this write up. And you want to know why? Because, this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a year or two. It’s quirky, it’s often hilarious. It’s violent. And it SAYS A LOT about this particular time and place that we live in today. And a conversation here, about what exactly it says is a good thing. Trust me on this one. You’ll see. Let’s get to it: I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore Explained.

So yeah, the movie kicks off as a quirky and bass ackwards festival flick that only the truly weird (like me) would like, or maybe the pretentious film snob (like me too). At first I took the film to be an all out assault on the selfish things we do in this world, the unthinking things that we do. Which, is a great movie idea. I can get behind that. How can we all become more giving. How can we become more selfless. I can get behind that. Sort of an inside out Falling Down.

But that isn’t what this movie is about, like, at all. At the halfway point we start to see the real colors and the real motives of this movie. It launches in one direction, but it soon pivots quickly from a conscientiously quirky and introspective think piece to a – wait for it – full-on Tarantino-esque mind job thriller. And fair enough, I knew nothing about this movie save for its pedigree, A24 films. I knew nothing save for the actors involved. So many people I respected were talking about this film. There was such a slow boil about this movie I decided I needed take a look. But when it pivoted and blew up, I literally laughed out loud.

So, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, here is the trailer, and then you’ll need to leave because I plan on discussing all the internal workings of this movie.

Quick Movie Overview

Ruth is done. She’s been cut off in the parking lot one too many times. And then her home is broken into and she is done. Absolutely done. She is determined to find who broke into her house and stole her stuff. After going to the police, who can do absolutely nothing really to help her, she is completely fed up. And then a light switch flips, and nothing, literally nothing, is going to stand in her way. Can I stop for a second, and point out the fact that our hero for this movie is a middle aged woman? Can I just mention how brilliant that is? Personally? I love absolutely everything about this plot setup. Ok, let us return back to our previously scheduled broadcasting.

So, our intrepid hero, Ruth, connects with Tony, a guy she met previously and they begin hunting down the thieves.

And that is when we start to realize that there are two different factions heading in the same direction. It would appear that the guy who ripped Ruth off, Christian, is the son of a local mob boss of sorts, Chris Rumack. And it would appear, that Christian and his two new friends, have plans on ripping off his dad. That is until Christian heads into Ruth’s house and she breaks his larynx? Something awful. And then, in a surprisingly laugh out loud scene, he’s hit by a bus as he runs out into traffic. Ruth, who obviously is freaked out, dials 911… but is then bludgeoned by Christian’s friend Dez and thrown into the van.

In a logical leap, Christian’s two “friends,” Marshall and Dez decide they need a third to pull off the heist on Chris Rumack. And since Ruth killed Christian… tag! She’s it. And in one of the most violent movie endings of all time we head to our climatic ending. And just so we can keep track of the details heading into the end I’m going to jump into outline form. Might help make more sense of the ending:

  1. Mrs. Rumack is taken hostage
  2. Chris comes out with a pistol
  3. Dez blows Chris’ gun hand off
  4. Marshall kills Chris’ muscle
  5. Ruth throws up violently
  6. Tony hits Dez in the face with throwing star
  7. Dez tries to shoot Tony and her shotgun blows her hand off when it explodes
  8. Marshall kills Chris by shooting him in the head
  9. Tony protects Ruth and gets stabbed by Dez
  10. Ruth and Marshall tussle
  11. Gun goes off, ricochets and hits Dez in the head
  12. Ruth takes Marshall’s gun and knocks him out
  13. Mrs. Rumack runs for it
  14. Ruth and Tony run, but are cut off by Marshall
  15. Ruth and Tony take a boat out into the woods
  16. Marshallchases them
  17. Ruth hits Marshall in the head with a rock
  18. Marshall falls into the swamp and is attacked by a snake
  19. Ruth takes Tony in a boat
  20. Marshall crawls off

And as the movie ends we see Ruth at a cook out with a friend. And she seems to still be morose, and depressed. But then, behind them both is Tony, standing at the grill with a halo around his face and a cane. Roll credits.

Ending of I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore Explained

But what is the movie all about? What is up with that woman Ruth sees in the woods? Is Tony alive? Or was that just a vision? And what about Marshall? Last we saw he was crawling through the woods with all manner of wounds. The what is always easier than the why.

I believe that Tony is alive, but only because of one simple prop that grounded him in the real world – his cane. That one simple device showed that he was healing, that he was on the mend, and that he was not in fact dead. Sans the cane though? I would have bet big money he was actually dead. And what of Marshall? I think Ruth left him in the woods for a reason. Which was that she was done. She was done with this mission. She was done fighting the stupidity. Done. And now she just wanted to survive, to help Tony survive. And to get out of the woods alive. Which also means maybe Marshall will be back in Home in this World 2! hahah.

But the bigger, more interesting themes in this movie are more about attitudes and perspectives that are pervasive in America today. “I’m going to get mine come hell or high water.” Jerks that are determined to cut others off. Idiots that believe they are so cool as to not hold the door for others. It’s all about common courtesy and enormous lack there of here in the world.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Macon Blair stated, “I was making a crime movie where the detective character – Melanie’s character – is really chasing after the notion that people could maybe, just maybe, be less of an asshole in their daily life.” Which literally? Is the entire point of Michael Douglas’ movie, Falling Down. And so I would say that these two movies are actually sibling films. Everything about them is similar. It’s about being kind to one another. It’s about basic common kindness for fellow human beings. And in this post-election-post-Trump world I would say that we need to hear this message more than ever.

Edited by, CY

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  • I totally disagree when you compare this movie to Falling Down. I liked this movie because she still kept her sanity and angry as she was, she still had good things remain about her character. I wondered about the ending too. She was still so depressed that I thought for sure Tony was dead. I’m still not sure, even though he has a cane. After all Grandma looked like she was smoking a cigarette. The dog was there also and one would think if Tony were dead Ruth would have adopted the dog. This was a very good movie. I didn’t like Falling Down because it was too in your face.

  • To be clear, the Falling Down analogy really only works for the impetus, the groundswell that began moving both protagonists. Ruth definitely pulls back from the abyss and starts fighting for Tony instead of continuing over the cliff. Right? She finds something worth fighting for and she does it with the same tenacity that she fought the rudeness and insensitivity with. She grew as a character and realized the bigger picture. Where as Michael Douglas as D-Fens just never learned anything. He just drove right off that proverbial deep end. There might have been a slight glimmer of realization towards the end, but nothing to cause him to pull up, or to stop.

    Now, as to your point that she was depressed, and therefore Tony was gone. Be careful there. Like the movie The Arrival, who’s lead character was shown that she was just a low-key/down individual (which is ok right? We meet people like this all the time, but we don’t allow it in film? Why?) and is why we bought the right hook. Ruth, even when happy, could be very low key. This could just be her “normal”. And hey, she is in love, but who’s to say that the state of the universe/world isn’t still overwhelming? I would argue, that people should be way way more angry about life than they are. If you’ve seen the levels of poverty and pain on this planet that I have seen? You’d probably be angrier.

    But it’s a fair point to raise. Is he dead? Maybe. I just want us all to allow for melancholic characters that aren’t so type-cast as to only be happy all the time. The glow is actually the one tell that he is dead. I’m sorry, but that just isn’t how grills work. Hahaha. So yeah, if anyone wants to argue he’s dead, far be it from to disagree.


  • One of the most violent movie endings EVER? You haven’t seen too many movies.

  • There’s a word, Hyperbole? Heard of it?

  • i feel like the main character was the most selfish of all – the detective points it out near the beginning of the film: he has real cases to look after and she is chasing after some silverware while putting others in dangers way. (almost getting her new love killed!) i think that’s why she’s so depressed at the end; realizing she could have almost lost everything – not to mention the ptsd from seeing all those people die. the movie is a comment on people’s selfishness and inability to realize when they themselves are being selfish as well.

  • This is a refreshing, quirky movie whose talented actors convey “realistic looking people” not trendy perfections. It seems like the kind of movie that might not be popular with folks who follow the Kardashians or like to take a kajillion selfies on a daily basis.

    The movie takes viewers on a ride quest which may not stray far from some of life’s roller-coaster experiences. Although none of the action scenes are implausible per se, they present adventurous, ofttimes violent reactions.

    This movie celebrates those rare, precious folks who sport a tiny yellow bumper sticker on the rear bumper of their car proclaiming, “Mean People Suck!” This long-titled film, “I Don’t Feel at Home Anymore…” is an eccentric take of the proverbial “The road to hell is paved in good intentions.”

    Melanie Lynskey’s and Elijah Wood’s characters initially seem mismatched but as their relationship enfolds, grows on the viewer to such an extent, a questioning poignancy occurs at the movie’s end.

  • I was just finish watching this movie. Elijah wood seems play more weird movies after LOTR. (Swiss Army Man and Horns). I feel so much related to the character Ruth. I feel so sick with this world today. And yeah even (some) the police cannot give the answer of our problems. Sometimes you have to finish your own problems to stand your ground and show the territory. It’s a dog eat dog world we living in.

  • This is one of the best movies I’ve seen in recent years. And I, like you, have seen a helluva lot of ’em. ;]
    Insert shameless(ful) self-promo here: Here is my review from my semi-popular blog, “The Quick Flick Critic”, https://thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com/

    “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore”: Earthy Perfection

    Melanie Lynskey is my new celluloid heroine. The New Zealander is flawless in practically every way in the eclectic as hell crime dramedy “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore”. Lynskey brings us Ruth, a Regular Jane managing as best she can working as a nursing assistant at a second-rate hospital while living alone in a particularly oddball suburb of one of the weirdest locations on our planet. This would be Portland, Oregon. I know. I’ve been there. A lot.

    Ruth is a foul-mouthed, pot smoking, beer swigging (Coors Light, a girl after my own heart) wallflower of a woman whose life is turned tush over tea kettle after her roost is robbed and her fave stuff is swiped. In the wake of the break-in, Ruth suffers an extreme case of violation, all the while repeating the refrain that she wants everybody to quit being such total assholes. And not just the creeps who ripped off her rental. Enlisting the aid of a fellow social misfit loner in her neighborhood (Elijah Wood in an inspired turn), the peculiar pair go off in search of the crooks and her cache.

    The first three-quarters of this strange saga are consistently hilarious and quirky on behalf of all involved. An abrupt shift in tone fashions the film’s final frames as decidedly dark and sinister before succumbing full force to explicit violence and graphic blood spatter. But then that’s pretty much how it goes when you’ve taken a deep dive into the deranged and despicable as this daring duo do.

    Ultimately it all serves a purpose. To show that even the most regular among us, that is to say you and I, are fully capable of accomplishing far greater than we ever dare dreamed was possible. If we’d but kick ourselves in the cans and get about it.

    That, and we want our fuckin’ laptop back bad enough.

  • I don’t think that’s what that scene with the cop was meant to convey. Because the example of a “real case” that he uses is the guy who was beaten unconscious on his own patio; that crime was also committed by Crissy. So, ultimately Ruth had a sort of cosmic justification for caring so much about her break-in.

  • Do your research Bram. Swiss Army Man and Horns starred Daniel Radcliffe.

  • Interesting movie and thoughts.

    I found the noting of Melanie Lynskey in her late thirties being described as middle-aged interesting. I would have thought she was late twenties to early thirties, and is presented as someone who doesn’t have a lot of disposable income and doesn’t get pampered, as opposed to middle – aged. I guess Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Anniston are elderly.

  • peg – so you’re saying people who live in poverty are magically going to have disposable income and will get “pampered” when we turn 40? interesting. can’t wait

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