Welcome to Me
Directed by Shira Piven
A year in the life of Alice Klieg, a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who wins Mega-millions, quits her meds and buys her own talk show.
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★★★½ review by jose on Letterboxd
better than Split (2016)
★★★½ review by TajLV on Letterboxd
"How about a little recap.... You're off your meds, you just spent $15 million, you're living in a reservation casino, and you're hosting your own talk show." ~ Dr. Daryl Moffet
This dark comedy is 99.9% Kristen Wiig. If you love her, you'll love it. If you don't, you won't. But hidden behind her smiles, tears, rage, lust, silliness, pain, insensitivity, rapture, megalomania, ranting, narcissism and insanity is some solid criticism of modern society that cuts knife-like through media's obsession with personal celebrity.
Wiig plays Alice Klieg, an unemployed veterinary assistant who collects disability for her borderline personality disorder. Her stay-at-home life revolves around television, watching recorded Oprah Winfrey episodes until she has memorized every word and falling asleep each night to infomercials that sell self-help nutrition products.
When Alice wins $87 million in the California lottery, she moves into a hotel-casino and declares she is starting a new life. She ignores the advice of everyone who cares for her, including her psychotherapist Dr. Daryl Moffet (Tim Robbins), her lifelong friend Gina Selway (Linda Cardellini), her parents Miriam & Bud (Joyce Hiller Piven & Jack Wallace), and her ex-husband Ted Thurber (Alan Tudyk).
Instead, she contracts with independent television producers Gabe and Rich Ruskin (Wes Bentley & James Masden) to create her own weekly two-hour talk show called "Welcome to Me." In her broadcast, there are no interviews, no current events, no guest appearances. It's all about Alice -- her likes, her dislikes, reenactments of scenes from her past, foods she eats, ideas she has, etc., etc., etc. In short, it's single-person reality TV, which echoes the inane interest fans have in the Kardasians, Real Housewives, Duck Dynasty and daytime "talk" shows like Jerry Springer.
Wiig is just quirky enough to pull this off, making a totally boring concept engaging. Her Alice is sexually unabashed, libelously honest and candidly cuckoo in front of the camera. There are more than a few blush-worthy scenes, from her live demonstration of how dogs are neutered to a full-frontal-nudity stroll down a row of slot machines. Nothing is held back.
Which drives the point home -- we are such voyeurs, we can't help but watch someone air laundry or make a fool of herself in public, even if she's mentally ill. And the way Rich trips over himself taking Alice's money to bring her brand of crazy to audiences is nothing short of media's whoring at its worst. Pair this film with "Nightcrawler," and you've got the darkest picture possible of the broadcast industry's insatiable avarice.
I should mention that Wiig gets some great support from excellent actors playing minor characters, including Loretta Devine, Joan Cusack and Jennifer Jason Leigh, to name a few. Hats off also to director Shira Piven in her sophomore outing and screenwriter Eliot Laurence for his inaugural feature. But it really is all Wiig, and the role seems to fit her to a cockeyed tee.
★★★½ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
Alice Klieg (Kristin Wiig) hasn’t turned off her television in 11 years. The set’s exhausted images are constantly flickering against the walls of the musty one-bedroom apartment she shares with several hundred VHS tapes, an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show recorded onto each one—Alice is hypnotized by syndicated sights of strangers tapping into their best selves.
★★★★½ review by Jacob on Letterboxd
This is the most radical and fascinating portrait of a personality disorder I have ever seen, and the low average rating does not surprise me at all. I, like Alice, utilize art as a medium of self-expression and reflection, but it's essential to consider whether analyzing your past is moving you forward or further burying you in it. Self-obsession and insecurity are a toxic combination, and that's only more intense with an audience. Welcome to Me is so weird, so uncomfortable, and so smart.
★★★½ review by Mr. DuLac on Letterboxd
I was a summer baby born in 1971 in Simi Valley, California, and I've been using masturbation as a sedative since 1991.
Steve G. said it best when describing this film and coining "It's a mental healthsploitation film". Even though it's sometimes cartoonish in it's depiction of Borderline Personality Disorder, it also has some heartfelt moments accompanied by some hard truths.
Above all though it's a black comedy featuring Kristen Wiig at her very best as Alice Klieg, a woman suffering from BPD that happens to win a lottery jackpot of $86 million. Circumstances soon finds Alice buying her own television show called Welcome to Me offering the film's most unique experiences and it's strongest moments.
While it's mostly played for laughs, the show also offers a look inside Alice's head as we get to view reenactments of seemingly trivial moments to others in her life that deeply effected emotionally. Those heartbreaking moments are of course countered by segments of watching Alice eat an entire piece of cake and neuter a dog live on air.
That unique experience only goes so far though as it all leads up to a somewhat formulaic third act, that despite being being extremely predictable, you'll still be rooting for the outcome thanks to Wiig's performance along with her best friend played by Linda Cardellini.
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