Published Sep 11, 2014It's hard to feel entirely comfortable laughing at the many jokes in Shira Piven's Welcome To Me. It's clear that Kristen Wiig is on top of her game, delivering a devoted performance as Alice Klieg, a psychologically unsound woman who spends the film off her meds. But how appropriate it is to laugh at the perils of a daunted woman is a conflict that lies at the very heart of the film.
Welcome To Me gets underway when Alice becomes the unlikely lottery winner of an $86 million jackpot. Being a woman who lives in her head, her first order of business is to finance her own Oprah-esque talk show called Welcome To Me. Alice's show is exactly that — a two-hour program that dwells on the past, even going so far as to recreate traumatic moments from Alice's sordid history, making for the most esoteric show on a desperate network already in the midst of fighting off bankruptcy.
But when Alice's disturbing quirks and emotional exhibitionism land her an unlikely cult status, the network is faced with the same moral dilemma that many fans of so-bad-it's-good cult content deal with regularly: Does the entertainment value of watching unsound subjects excuse its exploitative nature?
Wiig approaches Alice expertly, riding the line of quirk and humanity with a stellar combination of physical comedy and empathy. She has the ability to make you laugh and sigh in the same breath, lending the film a complexity you don't often find in films produced by Will Ferrell. Rounded out by a strong supporting cast including Linda Cardellini, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins and Wes Bentley — whose understated performance makes you wonder why he hasn't been utilized more fully since his American Beauty breakthrough — Welcome To Me is an intelligent and tragically hilarious comedy that deserves attention. (D Films)