TIFF 2018: The Land of Steady Habits

Ben Mendelsohn and Edie Falco in The Land of Steady Habits. Photo credit: Alison Rosa/Netflix.

Based on the book of the same name, The Land of Steady Habits is more comedy than drama in this newest film from Nicole Holofcener.

When we first meet Anders Hill (Ben Mendelsohn), he has retired from working in finance and is sleeping with other women after divrcing his ex-wife, Helene (Edie Falco).  Okay–so he’s a womanizer.  At first, a totally unlikable character, we’re finding ourselves gravitated towards rooting for him.  It makes so sense–I know–but this is the power of Holofcener as a writer.  She gives us this middle-aged man who knows that he’s not the best person in the universe.

Anders was strangely invited to his ex-wife’s holiday party so he decides to show up much to everyone’s surprise.  Nobody could blame him for missing her as well as their son, Preston (Thomas Mann).  It’s what he does while bored that tells us what kind of direction the film is going in.  He quickly finds himself out side with a friend of his son’s, Charlie (Charlie Tahan), and decides to do drugs.  One thing leads to another and Charlie ends up in the hospital after overdosing on angel dust.

As Anders sees how Charlie’s life, he seeks to make changes in his life.  One of those changes include being a better father to Preston.  He also meets Barbara (Connie Britton) strangely while at a strip club but they have another run -in while shopping.  Their whole relationship includes quite a bit of comedic-induced moments right from the moment they meet.

Ben Mendelsohn is riding a hot streak.  Whether its a supporting performance or a leading role, the man is quite reliable.  The actor brings quite a bit of emotion to his role of Anders.  It’s a performances that makes us look forward to his future work.

When I attended the world premiere in Toronto, writer/director Nicole Holofcenter described the film as a “drama with a little comedy.”  Judging by my reaction as well as that of the rest of the theater, I couldn’t disagree more.  I’d describe it as nice mix of comedy and drama.

There’s quite a bit of comedic moments.  Anders meets Barbara in the restroom of a strip club.  She was on a date with another man–who takes a woman to a strip club on a date?!?  In what can only be described as a comedic moment of error, Anders has the cab directed to his old house rather than new place.  A force of habit, one would assume.

The Land of Steady Habits is one of those indie films that make you feel glad that Netflix is around to come through when nobody else will.  For all of their duds (and yes, those do exist), films like this one remind us of what good the streamer can do.

CAST:  Ben Mendelsohn, Edie Falco, Thomas Mann, Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel, Charlie Tahan, Michael Gaston, Josh Pais, and Connie Britton

The Land of Steady Habits held its world premiere during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in the Gala program.  Netflix launched the film on September 14, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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