A movie review of “Welcome to Me”: Kristen Wiig captivates as a lottery winner who suffers from a mental condition in this dare-you-to-keep-looking dark comedy. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
There’s dark comedy, and then there’s take-no-prisoners, dare-you-to-keep-looking dark comedy. Kristen Wiig’s “Welcome to Me” falls decidedly in the latter category, making us laugh but feel deeply unsettled about doing so.
That’s because the film, directed by Shira Piven, is about mental illness, a decidedly unfunny subject. On the other hand, if you’re going to try to make mental illness funny and heartbreaking at the same time, it’s a good idea to have Wiig in your corner; the actress is not only one of the most talented comedians of her day but one of the boldest and bravest. And this is a performance that’s naked, in more ways than one.
Wiig plays Alice Klieg, who suffers from a mental condition described by her shrink (Tim Robbins) as borderline personality disorder. She lives in an apartment filled with swan-themed tchotchkes, old VCR tapes of Oprah shows and yellowing piles of lottery tickets.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Welcome to Me,’ with Kristen Wiig, Tim Robbins, Wes Bentley, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Joan Cusack. Directed by Shira Piven, from a screenplay by Eliot Laurence. 105 minutes. Rated R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language and brief drug use. Several theaters.
But one day, wouldn’t you know it, she actually wins the Mega-Millions lottery — an $86 million jackpot. And thus it begins.
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If you had $86 million, what would you spend it on? Alice’s heroine is Oprah, and she believes her special calling is to be a talk-show host. After hijacking a live infomercial broadcast to tell her story, jumping onstage as the stunned producers debate what to do, she marches into their offices and offers them $15 million.
The owners of the struggling production company (Wes Bentley, James Marsden) have no choice but to accept, since they need the funds. The scary-bad reality show that ensues has Alice regaling viewers with long minutes of her eating an iced meatloaf cake, opining about oral sex and wreaking vengeance on mean girls from her high-school days by re-enacting scenarios with hired actors.
Soon, things spiral out of control.
A uniformly terrific cast has been assembled to play the various people in Alice’s life. One wishes they had meatier parts. But it makes sense that they don’t, because everything is about Alice and her disturbing Wonderland, of course.