A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore, a revenge movie, is about as dark as black comedy gets. The two protagonists, both socially-isolated outsiders, join in a quest to right wrongs and confront the often-self-absorbed negligence and cruelty of modern-day city life. Neither powerful, romantic superheroes nor dedicated law enforcement authorities attempting to clean up the world, they're simply folks who are hoping for a fair shake after a home burglary. The film moves from moments of tender emotional fragility to outrageous violence, sometimes within the same scene. Escalating action is over-the-top, meant to be "in-your-face" gory (knifings, impaling, breaking of limbs, brutal hand-to-hand combat, encounters with a venomous snake, and fatal gunfire). Bodies fly; blood pours. Frequent profanity and cursing (i.e., "f--k," "s--t," "sonofabitch," "hell," "asshole," "goddamn," "p---y") is part of the film's texture. Characters drink alcoholic beverages, use marijuana, smoke, and refer to prescription drugs in several scenes. In the tradition of this genre, the movie is not meant for everyone, and certainly suitable not for kids.
What's the story?
Ruth (the phenomenal Melanie Lynskey), a socially inept nursing assistant, has just about had it with the inconsiderate, self-absorbed people she must deal with in I DON'T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE. But what really sends her over the edge is the discovery that her sanctuary, her own home, has been invaded. The very few things she treasures have been stolen. For the police, it's business as usual; they'll let her know if anything turns up. But Ruth wants her laptop computer back, AND her grandmother's silver! Taking matters into her own hands, she sets out to find the culprit and retrieve her stuff. Her initial efforts are successful, but then Ruth discovers that some very scary people are involved in this particular home invasion. Enlisting the aid of Tony, an unconventional neighbor (Elijah Wood in brave "quirky" mode), Ruth is unwavering in her commitment to right the wrongs, despite warnings from the police who can't (or won't) help her. So, Ruth and Tony in an all-out pursuit of justice, at whatever cost, find themselves in a hellish nightmare of crime, insanity, and bloody mayhem.
Is it any good?
A well-blended mix of comedy, horror, and social commentary, Macon Blair has written and directed an offbeat movie with lead actors who are perfect as two square pegs in a round-holed world. Melanie Lynskey as Ruth, with her sweet voice and innocent demeanor, is made of sturdy stuff, continues to surprise, and (spoiler alert) turns out to be more than a match for the gang of sociopathic criminals who've done her wrong. Elijah Wood, plus a talented list of featured players, make the most out of their memorably bizarre characters. In the vein of The Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino (whose first feature films were the ground-breaking Blood Simple and Reservoir Dogs, respectively), Blair's initial effort shows a clear vision for this hybrid movie style. I Don't Feel at Home in This World is definitely only for fans of the genre. The extensive violence, profanity, drug/alcohol content, and a bleak view of human nature make it inappropriate for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore. How did you react to the mayhem -- did you laugh? Gasp in surprise? Turn your head away? How do the filmmakers let you know that the brutality isn't meant to be taken seriously?
Media violence is a controversial issue. Do you think that movies like this one, with savagery both laughable and horrific at the same time, may make people less sensitive to real violent events in today's world? Why or why not?
Think about how the filmmakers built Ruth's sense of victimization in a series of small offenses directed at her (i.e., the dying patient, the man in the bar with the book, the behavior of the police). Do you think her frustration and hopelessness warranted her actions? Did you ever identify with Ruth? How can we best handle life's day-to-day affronts without resorting to extreme measures as Ruth felt forced to do?
Characters in literature and film are often most memorable when they behave in unexpected ways. How did both Ruth and Tony surprise you?
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