The Land Of Steady Habits follows Anders six months after his divorce. Newly retired, he has quit his job and left his wife. Somewhere along the way Anders decided that all the trappings of his life were preventing him from being happy. So in a sort of mid-life-crisis he starts over again. The problem is that he is still not happy. In fact his life is kind of tragic and lonely.
He has a barely civil relationship with his ex-wife and a strained relationship with his only son Preston. So the premise of the movie isn't exactly up-lifting. Actually it's quite depressing with little or no moments of fun or joy. And while that is hard to watch, and it is, it's also a beautifully told story.
This is very much a character drama and those characters are broken and flawed. There are no heroes or villains just a bunch of people trying to make the best of a tough situation. The incredible cast of Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), Edie Falco, Connie Britton and Thomas Mann create such a great narrative that you keep hoping things work out for them all at the end.
And for all the ordinariness of the story the film still throws up the odd shocking moment. The hard reality of this film is that if somebody is prepared to throw their life away they shouldn't be too surprised when it carries on for everybody else. That revelation however, does come as a surprise to Anders. His wife moves on and his friends move on leaving Anders still searching for a purpose and an identity.
It's a solid film but you have to be in the right mood to enjoy it. It's quietly understated and balanced and Nicole Holofcener did a fantastic job of directing it.