Director: Shira Piven
Writer: Eliot Laurence
Cast: Kristen Wiig as Alice Klieg, Wes Bentley as Gabe Ruskin, James Marsden as Rich Ruskin, Linda Cardellini as Gina Selway, Tim Robbins as Dr. Daryl Moffet, Joan Cusack as Dawn Hurley, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Deb Moseley, Alan Tudyk as Ted Thurber, Thomas Mann as Rainer Ybarra
Rated R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language and brief drug use
Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes
IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2788716
Plot: When she wins the lottery, a woman with borderline personality disorder decides to star in her own TV show.
One of cinema’s most annoying tropes is the trivialization of mental illness. Whether it’s a serious drama like The Soloist or a quirky “manic pixie dream girl” adventure, filmmakers of all stripes treat seriously troubling behavior as if it signaled genius or authenticity, instead of a medical disorder.
Welcome to Me could easily have stumbled into this category. Wiig is an incredibly likable performer, and Laurence writes just enough pathos into the script to make Alice someone to root for. She’s funny, she’s trying, she’s hurting deeply. What’s not to love about her?
Plenty, and that’s what sets this movie apart. No one involved is afraid to show how unstable Alice really is. She’s been diagnosed with a number of conditions over the years, with borderline personality disorder being the most recent. Her oblivious narcissism shields her from the hurtful way she treats friends and family, and winning the lottery just gives her another layer of protection.
Her show plays like an Adult Swim version of Oprah, a self-help confessional (emphasis on self) from another planet. Alice’s fan base is complicit in her eventual breakdown, treating her like the harmless eccentric she’s not. The people who know her well – best friend, ex-husband, parents – are cautious and worried, but millions of dollars will buy new, clueless friends.
When things inevitably go south, Piven and Laurence don’t soften the blow. Alice is a woman with major problems she refuses to confront, and there is no easy way out for her. She has to repair her relationships, listen to her doctor, and try to live in a way that doesn’t bulldoze everything around her. She simply won’t make it otherwise.
Wiig is extraordinary – like Steve Carell and Robin Williams before her, she digs into her comic persona just enough to reveal the darker, dramatic potential underneath. If there’s any justice, she’ll also be in the running for an Oscar, or at least a lot more interesting roles. Who needs a Bridesmaids sequel when you’ve got this much more to offer? 5/12/15