Sunday, June 26, 2011

DVD - Welcome to the Rileys



People have been unfair to Kristen Stewart. Yes, she is diabolically bad in Twilight (and she gets worse with every movie), with the ever-present hair pulling and eye twitching that drive me to distraction. But, to be honest, everyone in those movies is on auto-pilot, because 1) the screenplay's are so bad it makes it impossible for any actor to try and work their way out of the muck, and 2) the main fanbase simply don't care what the acting is like, as long as Taylor Lautner has his shirt off and Robert Pattinson is being the most 'romantic' vampire ever. Kristen Stewart in everything but these vampire...uh...things? Brilliant. If I was impressed with her performance as rocker Joan Jett in The Runaways, her performance as runaway 16 year old prostitute in Welcome to the Rileys completely blew that out of the water.


To say that Kristen is the best thing about this movie is a huge stake to claim. She is supported by two strong performances from James Gandolfini and recent Oscar winner Melissa Leo, who is particularly good. Kristen, however, is fearless in this movie, but at the same time, she is playing a tough girl on the exterior who is probably more out of her depth than anyone else, and even though she think she can, she really can't cope with it. However, she isn't the only one out of their depth. James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo play a couple who have been married for just about 30 years, but they don't appear to be the happy, homely couple that people would like to think they are. This is mostly due to the fact that thier daughter died in a car accident at the age of 15, and since then Lois (Leo) has refused to leave the house and naturally, Doug (Gandolfini) feels a lot of guilt towards what had happened. Enter Allison (Stewart), who is known as 'Mallory' when she's at work, who meets Doug at the club which she works at. She lost her mother and has since been living in a crappy house trying to pay her way by selling herself. Doug offers to help her become a better person, as she appears to be far beyond her years, but needs reeling in before she loses herself completely. In Allison, Doug sees the chance to have a substitute for his daughter, and feels like he is of use trying to help her, even though Allison isn't interested in being anyone's "little girl".


Doug, Lois and Allison aren't related, but their story makes for a very interesting family drama. The base of this movie is guilt: the guilt that Doug and Lois feel for their loss and the guilt that Allison doesn't know that she has building up inside of her until Doug comes along. Allison was very happy living a life so messed up that it's hard to imagine her as being someone my age. You can't say that Welcome to the Rileys treads unfamiliar ground, as one person trying to help another wayward person is hardly original. But the relationship between Doug and Allison, is one that quickly forms to be something similar to a simple father-daughter relationship, even if it really all comes down to guilt. What is more beautiful, though, is the relationship that forms between Lois and Allison. Lois is probably the most guilt-ridden out of the two, since she believes that her daughter's death was absolutely all her fault. At first, she doesn't buy into Doug forming a bond with Allison, but instead of bursting in demanding change like he did, Lois very gradually warms to Allison. Where Doug saw Allison more as a project, Lois saw Allison as a daughter. In all honesty, it was the conflicting interests between the two which I really connected with, and probably why I loved this film so much (though, my weakness for an indie drama probably contributes greatly).


I imagine that many people would find this meddling material, as it does tend to take it's time and it has a few unintentional awkward silences. Other than that, this is actually a little gem of a film. It's obviously made with love, and it's just a very genuine film. The performances are, of course, the highlight, because if they weren't so good, this film would have had trouble getting off the ground like it did. James Gandolfini is a great father figure, taking no nonsense from anyone else, but being very lenient towards himself. He has a commanding, yet quite cheeky, showcase, which is nothing short of heartfelt and human. Melissa Leo was particularly impressive. She was so shaky, insecure and confused that it was painful to watch her sometimes, but you could really see the points she was trying to make. She was the beautiful mother figure to Gandolfini's father figure, yet she was just so shaken by even the slightest knock against her. But, as I said at the beginning of the review, Kristen Stewart is the stand-out performer in this. She just had a presence of someone who appeared beyond her years, but she was still very much a child underneath it all. If you want proof that Kristen Stewart can indeed act, very well, look no further than Welcome to the Rileys.

THE VERDICT: The heartfelt and electrifying performances from Gandolfini, Leo and Stewart elevate Welcome to the Rileys from the meddling material it could have been, and make it an family drama that's not to be missed.

What I hoped for:








What I got:

11 comments:

  1. Nice write-up. Congrats on 100 followers :)

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  2. I really wanted to check this out (which I might have mentioned to you when you said that you'd seen it), so I am really glad you liked it so much!

    And yes, as Being Norma Jeane said, congrats on your 100 followers! It is well deserved!

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  3. I absolutely agree with what you said about Stewart in the Twilight films. I was actually really impressed with her in The Cake Eaters. She's good when the screenplay allows her to be.

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  4. Congrats on your 100 followers! Your blog does deserve 100 followers!

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  5. Congrats on hitting 100 followers! I was #99, but you didn't follow back :(

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  6. wow...i thought everyone acted terribly in this, and the screenplay was horribly weak.

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  7. Nikhat - Thank you and thank you :)

    Cherokee - Watch Season of the Witch and Sanctum before watching this...it will make it look like a masterpiece! Thanks!

    Brittani - I need to see The Cake Eaters...she looks really good in that!

    James - Thanking you kindly :)

    Nebular - Trust me, I tried to follow you but blogger is being crazy at the moment on my computer. I will keep trying!

    Candice - Hmmmmm, well I didn't.

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  8. Season of the Witch looks absolutely hilariously bad. Sanctum just looks pretty dire.

    (She is great in The Cake Eaters btw, even if the film is a little lame.)

    And you're welcome! Next stop is 200 followers!

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  9. I mean, I don't hate Stewart as much as I probably should. I thought she was great in Adventureland, but I guess that's the only role she does Pouty McDepressed-I-wear-a-lot-of-dark-eyliner-and-have-angst-also-like-independent-music. This seems interesting though, and am not to judge a film based on one actor however much I'd like to.

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  10. Great writeup. Thanks for reminding me about this film, I've been meaning to watch it for awhile now.

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  11. Cherokee - Season of the Witch is my next Nicolas Un-Caged movie! And it was the most popular renter on the weekend! Everyone at work was hailing it as a masterpiece!
    200 followers...that seems like a very far away target. I'm looking forward to getting 123 followers.

    5plitreel - I think she'll be taking that role quite a lot...it suits her, to a degree. And don't worry, I always judge films on an actor. It's wrong, I know.

    Bonjour Tristesse - Thanks! Hope you like it :)

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You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

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