The Land of Steady Habits – Review

Genre Drama
Directed by Nicole Holofcener
Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Edie Falco, Thomas Mann, Connie Britton
Released on September 12, 2018(TIFF), September 14, 2018(United States)
Duration 98 minutes
Flixxpanda Rating 5/10
Channel Netflix

The Land of Steady Habits is a sincere reflection on a man’s midlife crisis. Regardless of whether or not you like it, The Land of Steady Habits definitely leaves an impression.

The Land of Steady Habits deals with the topic delicately (well if you don’t count the lead breaking into his ex-wife’s house with a one-night stand in tow) and tries to be as authentic as possible, sometimes falling a little short (this is a film after all) but it’s as close to realistic as you’re gonna get. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ted Thompson, although there are quite a few modifications in terms of plot lines and character personas. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2018 and was released about two days later on Netflix.

Middle-aged Anders Hill, played by the amazing Ben Mendelsohn, is going through some sort of crisis. He feels trapped and craves liberation. Bottom line is, he’s lost. After a long and successful career in finance he’s desperate for something more meaningful. He retires from his job and divorces his wife Helene, played by the beautiful and talented Edie Falco. He moves into his own condo. He’s all alone finally free when he realizes he’s still just as lost. We watch him flounder through the day doing meaningless things. He buys random things to decorate his condo with and has a string of one-night stands that border on disaster more than anything exciting.

Helene and her son Preston (Thomas Mann), fresh from rehab continue to stay at the family home despite Anders leaving it. Further, Helene’s boyfriend moves in with them. Now, despite initiating the divorce, Anders isn’t over Helene and keeps tabs on her. Anders and Preston don’t really seem to have a connection, they barely speak and all their interactions seem laced with awkward tension. Fast forward and even though Anders isn’t living in the family house, he still owns it and thus must keep up with mortgage which he realizes he cannot afford anymore because he’s retired. On one occasion he drunkenly breaks into said house with his one-night stand which causes quite the scene when Helene finds out.

There are a lot of subplots in the film that do get tied up by the end of it, but it’s just very morose. There are no highs or positive messages in the film. I mean, yes, at the end everyone moves on, Helene moves out of the house, Preston goes back to school, Anders dates someone else.  But it’s just a very unsatisfying watch.

The Land of Steady Habits takes on a very melancholic note. It feels like everyone is miserable all the time. Don’t watch it if you’re looking for a pick-me-up. This isn’t that kind of movie.

Credit – Netflix | YouTube

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