If you won 86 million dollars on the lottery, what would you do with your winnings? Donate to charity? Invest in a new home? Or would you buy your own talk show and spend millions on trying to be as successful as Oprah? Well, in Welcome to Me that’s what Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) sets her heart on.
Alice has suffered under the hands of her mental health disorders since she was a child but she embraces it. Growing up believing she was depressed, Alice embraced the psychiatric visits and medication when diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Decorating segments of her apartment in various colours to control her emotions, and taping every Oprah Winfrey show that is aired, Alice is content with her life.
Everything in her life is orderly and under her control. That is, until she wins millions on the lottery and her winning speech is cut off by TV producers for her sexual references. Unable to air her speech again, Alice sets her sights on gaining her own audience by starring in her own talk show based entirely on her.
Approaching TV businessmen, Gabe (Wes Bentley) and Rich Ruskin (James Marsden), Alice pitches her show and its extravagant features. However, it isn’t the show’s concept that hooks the brothers, it’s the fortune that Alice is willing to give their studio to air it.
Once the cheques are signed, and the show begins to air, the brothers have no choice but to play along with Alice’s fantastical dream of stardom. All the while unaware that Alice has gone off of her medication and is allowing her emotions to get the best of her.
Alice is soon breaking friendships to give her audience a good show and causing a strain on Gabe and Rich’s relationship when one finds himself falling for her. With everyone always saying ‘yes’ to her wants, Alice struggles when she is finally turned away and left to cope on her own.
Having watched many of Kristen Wiig’s skits on SNL, and many of her hit comedies, I was pleasantly surprised by her dedication to the character of Alice Klieg. If you too hear Wiig’s name and immediately picture her in a comedic setting, prepare to view this actress in a new light. You too will be astonished by her hidden versatility.
Unfortunately, this pre-conception of Wiig’s limits in terms of genre, I started my viewing with the expectation that it too would be a light-hearted comedy; not a gripping tale of mental health and the consequences of wealth. This being said, once the mood of the film was set from the outset, I was soon forgetting Wiig’s previous comedic starring roles and focusing my awe on her performance.
Kristen Wiig managed to bring to life her character’s mental disorder with as much grace as a professional would when tackling this subject. Her portrayal of the character of Alice was truly believing and had me connecting with the character on an emotional level so deep that her breaking relationships brought a tear to my eye. Even the smallest detail was covered in Wiig’s portrayal of a multiple personality disorder, right down to the facial expressions which can sometimes say far more than an actor’s lines. Every emotion was genuine and acted as a telling contrast between Alice’s character and those who she interacted with on a daily basis; especially the interactions between Alice and her best friend Gina (portrayed by Linda Cardellini).
This being said, all the praise for this subject cannot be placed on the actors’ shoulders. Both the director and screenwriter for Welcome to Me must be praised for this film’s handling of such a sensitive subject. Both have considered every aspect of the disorder and the prejudice that befalls those in Alice’s shoes. Every character is explored in terms of their reactions to Alice and their ability to adapt so that she is at ease. Wes Bentley’s character of Gabe is a true example of this as he too is hinted at having difficulty maintaining relationships with those around him, making him the perfect companion for Alice to bounce off of.
Now, the only thing preventing this film from hitting the full score of its rating – for this reviewer anyway – is the pace. Although it may be intentional to mimic Alice’s slow lifestyle, I felt it could have picked up far earlier on in the film. It wasn’t until Alice entered the boardroom that my full attention was peaked and I began to understand the extent of Alice’s condition. To me, this hindered my viewing, losing it that one additional point.
Regardless of its negatives and my preconceptions of Kristen Wiig’s abilities, Welcome to Me was a new genre of film that I will soon be diving into again. The slight humour and crude language/explicit scenes were a mere shadow on the depth given to the characters and the storyline that intertwined all of them.
This is a film that will play with your heartstrings and open your eyes to the struggles that happen to a person on the inside. It really incorporates the social issue of mental health and how it is often disregarded and for that I am impressed by how it was tackled. Even sensitive subjects, such as the childhood of Alice, are approached with such care that even the most unaware of viewers will be left with a newfound understanding of the struggles of mental health. I would definitely recommend this to many of my friends and would return for additional viewings in the future.
Director: Shira Piven
Starring: Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini