Welcome to Me (2014)

Welcome to Me (2014)
  • Time: 105 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama
  • Director: Shira Piven
  • Cast: Kristen Wiig, Linda Cardellini, James Marsden, Will Ferrell


What happens when a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder wins the lottery? In the case of Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig), she quits her psychiatric meds and buys her own talk show. Inspired by the immortal Oprah, she broadcasts her dirty laundry as both a form of exhibitionism and a platform to share her peculiar views on everything from nutrition to relationships to neutering pets. Also starring Wes Bentley, James Marsden, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Linda Cardellini.

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  • “We are dead in the water without this woman,” Rich Ruskin (James Marsden) declares to his disbelieving network staff. The woman in question is Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig), a thirtysomething recluse and recent 86 million dollar lottery winner who also happens to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and is prone to making prepared statements. “I was a summer baby,” she recites at her press conference before segueing into this personal tidbit: “[I’ve] been using masturbation as a sedative since 1991.”

    Alice is a singular creation by Wiig, who unleashed a slew of memorable characters during her Saturday Night Live run. Attired in rompers and dresses, accessorised with fanny packs and parasols, Alice spends her time in her studio apartment with her television as her faithful companion. She is one of Oprah’s apostles, a firm believer in her idol’s sermons on the power of positive thinking. With 86 million dollars at her disposal, whatever Alice wants, Alice gets – and what Alice wants is to have her own talk show.

    Rich, with an ailing production company on his hands, certainly won’t deny Alice her wish, especially if she’s willing to write a check for 15 million dollars to ensure her wish comes true. Thus “Welcome to Me” is born, a show like no other, completely defined by the switchbacking whims of its star, who insists on making her stage entrance in a swan boat to the strains of her self-written and self-sung theme song. One segment finds her making a meatloaf cake with mashed potato icing and then eating a slice for five minutes on live television. She thinks nothing of casually dropped confessions – she’s off her medication, she’s performed oral sex on men twice her age – or sharing her most embarrassing experiences via re-enactments (during which she directs the actresses playing her various selves in the midst of their performances).

    Welcome to Me is an openheartedly bizarre film that can be jarring to watch from time to time. Screenwriter Eliot Laurence offers a mocking commentary on reality shows and especially daytime chat shows that traffic in superficial self-examination and self-empowerment. That the script also happens to be an unusual look at mental illness means that Laurence has to walk a very fine line, which he generally does for most of the film. There is an issue of balance that neither he nor director Shira Piven never quite iron out; it’s especially glaring in the third act when the story dips its toes into murkier waters and never completely regains its footing.

    The supporting cast, which includes Joan Cusack, Wes Bentley, Linda Cardellini, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, are fine but underused – a shame given their considerable talents. Cusack and Wiig barely share any scenes together, which strikes one as a wasted chance to witness two of the finest comic actresses sparking off one another. Yet one cannot really complain about having Wiig so front and center. She is plain brilliant as the self-obsessed Alice, who rarely cedes the spotlight to anyone’s troubles, thoughts, or opinions.

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