Kirsten Wiig plays a millionaire playing Oprah.
I want to like Welcome To Me, I really do. The cast is great, the concept has so much potential and the tone has potential. Unfortunately Welcome To Me just feels like an unfinished movie.
Kirsten Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a woman suffering from a disjointed personality disorder who wins $86 million dollars in the lottery and looks to fulfill her fantasy of having a television show where she is the star and main topic of discussion. After setting herself up in a casino’s hotel she finds a low budget tv network Live Alchemy via infomercials and sets about staging her own show. She sings the theme song, she generates the content and casts her own flashback actors. It is uncomfortable viewing and sets tensions at the studio. A sexual compulsion, broken friendships and ongoing visits to a court appointed therapist thicken out an often difficult film experience.
Kirsten Wiig is versatile as an actress but maintains a similar twinkle of madness in her eye across all of her roles, her off kilter personality playing into Alice’s mental illness but unfortunately not endearing her to audiences. I am sure i am meant to sympathise with the lead for her desire to be like her role model Oprah Winfrey and empathise about how her brain holds her to ransom. Instead i feel sorry for her family, her friends and all those she drags into her mess. Even James Marsden’s station owner Rick Ruskin has a clear focus as to what he does.
The cast and acting are sensational. Wes Bentley as a timid station owner and on screen talent, Joan Cusack as a bewildered producer, Thomas Mann’s starry eyed student, Tim Robbins therapist and Linda Cardellini’s besieged friend. they all have a role to play. The film is visually subdued, the only saturation of colour found in the television screens Alice adores. Even her own show remains dull and dreary for most of the film, reflecting her own lost purpose and inability to realise her own desires.
Welcome To Me could have been amazing, the interplay of the serious mental illness counterpointed with a comedic low budget talk show parody could provide an introspective look at how we treat celebrity and mental illness. Instead we get a disjointed descent into madness with some moments of crushingly dark comedy. There will be an audience that does well with this film, that sympathises with the right characters and takes the comedy in the best way possible. That audience isn’t me though and while I watched with anticipation for what the story could potentially lead to, I finished the film disappointed and unfulfilled.