Macon Blair's revenge comedy debuts on Netflix Feb. 24

By Mary Sollosi
January 20, 2017 at 08:33 AM EST
Allyson Riggs

The Sundance Film Festival kicked off Thursday night with the world premieres of seven features and a shorts program. The day one film selected from the U.S. Dramatic Competition section — a buzzy slot in the lineup that was filled by Whiplash in 2014, for one — was writer-director Macon Blair’s revenge comedy I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which, unlike many of the films at the indie fest, already has distribution: A Netflix original, it will become available on the streaming service in February.

Sundance regular Melanie Lynskey stars as Ruth, a depressed nurse who loses her laptop, her grandmother’s silver, and some antidepressants when her home is burglarized. The police prove ineffective in finding the criminals (and indifferent to Ruth’s distress over so few, mostly trivial items), so she takes matters into her own hands, tracking down her possessions and seeing justice done to those who took them with the help of her eccentric neighbor, Tony (Elijah Wood).

The inspiration for the film came from when Blair’s own apartment was burglarized, “so it was very much a wish-fulfillment scenario of what if I had followed that path,” the filmmaker said in a Q&A after the premiere. “Of course, I didn’t.”

Best known as an actor, especially in the films of his friend and collaborator Jeremy Saulnier, Blair makes his directorial debut with I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which shares its appreciation of DIY revenge with Saulnier’s 2013 thriller Blue Ruin, in which Blair starred. “[Saulnier] and I just have a similar sensibility of putting unqualified people into these situations, so they don’t do the cool, expected thing,” Blair said.

Lynskey was thrilled to be that highly unqualified badass. “Honestly, when I read the script, it was such a dream come true,” she said during the Q&A. “I was like, ‘Are you serious? Like, you want me to do this?’” Blair really, really did: He wrote the script with her and Wood in mind for the lead roles.

The film’s unwieldy title came from a record that Blair received from Saulnier as a birthday present. “It’s a collection of old country spirituals and kind of obscure music like that that I had never heard of,” he said. “And I just started listening to that song on repeat as I was writing the script, and it kind of fit the vibe.” Everybody told him, though, that it was way too long, so the film went untitled throughout production. Finally, after dozens of alternatives failed to inspire, they went back to Blair’s original, 11-syllable, full-sentence title. You might say something about it just felt like home.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore debuts on Netflix Feb. 24.