Netflix released its new original movie this week, “The Land of Steady Habits.” It follows the story of Anders Hill, played by Ben Mendelsohn, as he undergoes a massive midlife crisis. He quits his job, divorces his wife and moves into his own condo. He then develops a strange friendship with Charlie, played by Charlie Tahan, who is his friends’ teenage son with a drug problem. It’s a weird plotline for sure, but it does a good job of capturing the ups and downs that happen in real life.
The movie is the definition of starting “en media res,” and the first half of it is pretty confusing. You don’t actually find out why Anders divorced his wife, or why everyone seems to hate him, until halfway through the movie. It’s not even entirely clear how old Anders’ son is until late in the movie, which only makes it more confusing because he’s a lot older than earlier implied.
The plotline is a little odd, and mostly involves Anders making bad decision after bad decision. He smokes PCP with teenagers, drunkenly breaks into his old house in the middle of the night and lies to his family constantly, especially about money. This serves as one of the major plot-holes in the movie, because Anders is somehow able to buy himself a fancy, well-furnished condo, but can’t actually afford to pay the mortgage on his old house.
In general, though, I found the movie to be a refreshing take on life. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The worst-case-scenarios often came true but the characters persevered and moved forward. It’s a sad movie, but it’s also a good movie. Every character is on a quest to achieve their own personal happiness, and they all take the wrong path before eventually ending up on the right one.
The movie felt super genuine. The two families were struggling to seem “perfect” when in reality, they were faking it while their lives were a mess. By trying to act like everything was fine when it so clearly wasn’t, they made everything worse. And this, I think, it what makes the movie so great. I’ve seen countless families put on the same act, and seeing it portrayed in a movie like this is really unique.
Not to mention the movie takes place in Westport, Connecticut, making it quite literally hit close to home.
A huge part of the movie reflects the idea of parenthood and the difference between trying to be a good parent and trying to look like a good parent, a fine line that Charlie points out to Anders at one point. It also reflects the importance of communication, both of which I think are important issues this day and age.
Charlie is the most dynamic character in the movie. He delivers many of the movies best lines, and also accurately portrays the struggles of being a teenager. He’s incredibly passionate about the graphic novel he’s making, but between his strained relationship with his parents and his drug use, he spends most of the movie struggling to find a way to live with this family he can’t stand. While the movie follows Anders’ story, it’s is also largely about Charlie, and I’d argue his story might even be more important.
“How can you let someone you don’t even like have so much control over you?” Charlie asks Anders halfway through the movie. The movie had a lot of good lines that made me want to stop and write them down. And as dark as the plot got at times, there was always an equal amount of comic relief that had me laughing.
While it started a little slow, and the cast isn’t particularly impressive, the story is definitely one worth sharing. With Christmas so heavily portrayed in the movie and the running themes of family and friendship, it’s definitely a must-watch for the coming season.
Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.