Methinks the diverse Kristen Wiig, is going to get showered with awards for a film someday. This may come as no surprise to many, especially after her Oscar nomination for writing the screenplay for 2011’s “Bridesmaids”, as well as grabbing a Best Comedy Actress nom from the Golden Globes, for the same film. But it’s her dramatic acting chops that impressed me here. “Welcome to Me” is a tricky dark comedy, that Ms. Wiig carries while performing a delicate balancing act. She’s unbelievably compelling and charismatic, as the borderline personality-disordered, Alice Klieg. In an age when we really should stop judging women by their looks, Ms. Wiig is still decidedly an unlikely movie star, with her gangly, yet athletic, body, and unconventional prettiness. Her talent is unmistakable though, and her comedic timing is incredible.
Alice Klieg (an outstanding Ms. Wiig) is a fortysomething, divorced, unemployed, West Coast woman on disability, who is regularly treated for borderline personality disorder. Alice has a prominent therapist (a solid Tim Robbins), and a steady diet of meds. She also spends her days watching old VHS tapes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in her cluttered apartment. Then she hits the lottery for 86 million dollars. So what does Alice decide to do? How about changing her life by getting off her medication, and financing her own Oprah-like reality/talk show, where she can work out her life issues via monologues, cooking features, and live “flashback” reenactments? Only 15 million dollars, you say? No problem–but she has to ride in on a swan boat, and call all the shots. What’s a small, struggling, infomercial-based studio to do but say yes?
Ms. Wiig accomplishes marvelous, daring work here, and she carries the film quite ably. But she also has a supporting cast of superb veterans like Joan Cusack, Wes Bentley, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. And director Shira Piven, and screenwriter Eliot Lawrence do such a fine job for the first hour of “Welcome to Me”, that it’s really a shame when the 88-minute black comedy, decides to cop-out, and employ an overly mushy 3rd act. Until then, the film was so exceptional, that it could’ve deserved mention at year’s end, on my annual Top Ten list. But settling for safe is easier, and the filmmakers should lament the choice–because it’s not like the film raked it in at the box office. But you shouldn’t miss seeing Alice channeling her inner Oprah, as she bakes a meatloaf cake, and reenact periods from her life. By the time she walks naked through a crowded casino, you’ll be convinced that Ms. Wiig is serious about pulling out all the stops. She’s great.