Land Of Steady Incomes

In Nicole Holofcener’s ‘Land Of Steady Habits’, White People Have Problems

I saw the Land Of Steady Habits movie, now streaming on Netflix. Because Nicole Holofcener directed this film, it is about rich white people with Problems. The main problematic white person, played by Ben Mendelsohn, a very good actor, looks like Ben Stiller combined with Anthony Bourdain. He owns a luxury home and a luxury condo but is very unhappy because he got divorced, which he also did because he’s unhappy.

The movie takes place in something like Massachusetts, or maybe a Massachusetts of the soul. Children have drug issues and cannot get their shit together. Wives don’t do anything but fret and tend their gardens. No one seems to work, and everyone seems to be millionaires. It’s all very Ice Storm-y, except the weather appears to be merely chilly and no one swaps spouses.


LAND OF STEADY HABITS ★★ (2/5 stars)
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
Written by: Nicole Holofcener, Ted Thompson (from the novel by)
Starring: Ben Mendelsohn, Edie Falco, Connie Britton, Thomas Mann
Running time: 98 min.


 

Many symbolic symbols appear. Ben Mendelsohn puts up too many inflatable Christmas decorations, which indicates his inability to grow up even though he owns a Mercedes. A much-discussed turtle, whose life appears to matter more than most human lives, gets a lot of screen time. A faint air of apolitical ennui wafts about as people try to find their best selves. Characters spend most of their time wandering through grocery stores and wine depots. None of it gets satirized as hard as it should.

Edie Falco and Connie Britton also appear as women who live in nice homes and don’t seem to work much. We hear a lot about how middle-aged actresses should get more screen time, but when they do, it’s usually in dull, subtle roles like these. Tinkly piano music plays and everyone tries to move on from a traumatic Christmas season.

In the opening credits, I saw that Holofcener adapted this movie from a novel by Ted Thompson, who was my intern at McSweeney’s 18 years ago. And then I hit myself in the face with a hammer.

This concludes my review of the Land Of Steady Habits movie.

 

Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of ten semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. He's written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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