HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Welcome to Me
HTS Overall Score:69
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the name Kristen Wiig? I’m sure that at the very least images of “Anchorman 2”, “Bridesmaids”, “Despicable Me” and SNL come to mind. Quirky comedy bits that are delivered with deadpan emotion and leave you crying on the floor with laughter. Take all of those thoughts and just throw them out the window as Wiig transforms into a completely different character, even darker and more awkward than “Skeleton Twins”, and with even less humor. Be certain there IS humor in the film, but it is pitch black and very wry in nature, with the laugh moments very strained, leaving you to wonder if you actually SHOULD be laughing, even if that is the very purpose of the joke. I was entertained, I was disturbed, saddened and ever so slightly confused at the same time, as “Welcome to Me” doesn’t come across as your typical movie, but more of a complicated slice of life dramedy that Kristen Wiig used to bare herself to the world (quite literally in one scene).
Mental illness is no laughing matter, as many of the people dealing with said illnesses struggle on a daily basis to live in a semblance of normalcy. Some are able to do so quite successfully with the help of friends, family and sometimes medication, while for others it is a daily battle to hold on. I know people who suffer from mild Bi-polar mood swings, to those who have to be on daily medication just to be able to hang on another day, and no matter what the severity, the struggle is real and palpable for every one of them. This is especially true for Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig), a woman who struggles with a rather severe case of borderline personality disorder. Living in an apartment, collecting disability for her issue, Alice lives day in and day out with her own personal pain and quirks, ranging from ordering everything with color, never turning off her television for 11 years or eating a low carb diet as part of her own personal “therapy”. The very first minute of the movie is her therapist (played by Tim Robbins) telling Alice that he’s worried because he found out she’s not taking her anti-psychotic meds. From that point on everything is told through the filter of Alice’s non medicated state. Winning 86 MILLION DOLLARS, Alice is shot from bottom of the barrel to ridiculously wealthy. So what does a newly minted millionaire do with that much money? They promptly go to the nearest failing Television production company and request to buy a talk show spot.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47194[/img]Gabe (Wes Bentley) and Rich (James Marsden) Ruskin are heads of said failing TV production studio, and Alice coming in with a blank check for a TV talk show spot seems like they’re golden ticket out of there. Gabe and the rest of the crew (also including Joan Cusack) see the moral implications of taking advantage of a mentally ill person, but Rich is so enamored with dollar signs that he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the company afloat. Thus starts “Welcome to Me”, a 2 hour talk show without guests, without an audience, just with Alice using the show as an emotional outlet for her problems and quicks.
“Welcome to Me” plays out as a bizarre mix of comedy and slice of life, with the majority of the awkward little film letting us view life through Alice’s eyes. As someone who knows quite a few people in the mental health industry, I have confirmed that this is one of the most accurate portrayals of someone with borderline personality disorder. The self-centered nature, the lack of understanding of other people, the constant desire to be loved and accepted by performing, and the intense pain that they suffer from. The movie itself is rather meandering at times, and feels like an emotional roller coaster, but that is exactly what a person with this disorder feels like. Constantly up and down with no sign of slowing down. For that I have to give Kristen Wiig mad props, as she has stretched her range to do something that I honestly didn’t see her capable of doing. Even “Skeleton Twins” didn’t give her this much to work with, albeit it was the slightly better MOVIE.
I wanted to like “Welcome to Me” more than I did, not because I was highly disappointed, but because the erratic pace of the movie sort of took me out of the moment. I understand that’s what they were going for, but the constant shifting of tone and pace doesn’t lead to a perfect viewing experience. Kristen was outstanding, and Wes Bentley turned in his best (if not a bit brief) role in quite some time, with a solid supporting role by Tim Robbins (I thought I’d never say that in recent years). The majority of the screen time and focus of the movie is all on Alice, so I would technically give EVERYONE else the title of secondary character, but they each blended smoothly into the disturbing little dramedy.
Rated R for sexual content, some nudity, language and brief drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47202[/img]The 1.78:1 framed AVC encode looks quite solid for the genre and budget, never becoming overwhelming beautiful or striking, but looking extremely natural and accurate. The image has some very nice fine detail, with shots of the California Desert and the well-lit studio environment. The picture can get a bit soft at times, which does rob it of some fine detail, but close ups are excellent and the clarity is very satisfying. Black levels look good, with some washed out greys for part of the film, but the overall image never goes below “very good”, and the resulting image should please most everyone.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47210[/img]The 5.1 TrueHD track is a more than a bit front heavy, which is very natural for a dialog heavy dramedy, but this one is even more front heavy than expected. The dialog is the main focus here, with little bits of the score and a teensy bit of ambient noises bleeding through into the surround channels. Said dialog is clean and clear, with no distortions or issues with the voices throughout the movie, but the surrounds are very much lacking in the activity department, and while there is some LFL, it’s very mild and subdued. “Welcome to Me” isn’t a wild and immersive action soundtrack, as it draws mainly from vocals and few directional queues in the front sound stage. It does the job, and does it solidly, just not with a very demanding source.
I’m not sure how I would describe “Welcome to Me”. It’s a strange little movie that seems to want to impart the same hectic and frenetic feelings of frustration shared by someone suffering with borderline personality disorder. “The Humbling” tried the same tactic, but failed so utterly miserably, and I’m glad to say that “Welcome to Me” succeeds a bit more where that one failed. The opening 30 minutes are extremely poignant, setting the stage for what comes next, and the allegorical and submerged message of the movie doesn't come out for a while, but unfortunately the creativity that spawned the first act isn't fully sustainable by the time the third act wraps up. I won’t go so far as to say it’s a great movie, but it’s certainly an interesting watch, one I would definitely recommend renting before purchasing.
Starring: Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini
Directed by: Shira Piven
Written by: Elliot Laurance
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Runtime: 87 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: June 16th 2015
Buy Welcome to Me On Blu-ray at Amazon
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