Welcome to Me, 2014.
Directed by Shira Piven.
Starring Kirsten Wiig, James Marsden, Joan Cusack, Alan Tudyk, Linda Cardellini, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins, Wes Bentley.
Alice Klieg suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder and a mild addiction to Oprah Winfrey. When she wins over $80 million on a lottery she makes the decision to stop taking her medication and start her own talk show. Surely nothing can go wrong.
Kristin Wiig has done so many big, brash comedies in recent years it is nice to see her in something smaller, with a bit more heart and a bit less bodily functions and cursing. Her character of Alice Klieg is fairly happy with her life. She has her own apartment, she has a great and understanding best friend Gina (Cardellini) and she has recording of every Oprah Winfrey show.
It is only when Alice wins a lottery that she decides she wants more. She decides it is time for a new her, and a new life. This means goodbye medication and hello talk show. Lucky for Alice, the station she approaches is in trouble and they happily accept her offer of $15 million to take on her show. Unfortunately, they don’t know what they are letting themselves in for.
Alice’s show ‘Welcome to Me’ turns out to be an insight into her unorthodox mind, regardless of what anybody watching may think. Through this medium she upsets her therapist, her friends and people up and down the country. She also burns her breasts and castrates animals live on air, which the ASPCA are non too happy about. The only way she can turn it around, is to use her show and her money for something other than venting her own frustrations and thoughts.
Welcome to Me is refreshing in that it portrays mental ill health in a way that depicts both the ups and the downs, rather than just the downs. It shows that living with Borderline Personality Disorder is not purely pain and anguish, and that people suffering can have positive lives and outlooks. That said, it is also not a textbook portrayal of the illness and does have an air of ‘these people be crazy’ about it which may come across as offensive to some.
However, Welcome to Me is less a film about mental illness and more a film about the protagonists struggle to not be defined by her illness. Her fight to show the world who she is behind the label of Personality Disorder without being censored like she is too many times before. That is what makes the film as likeable as it is.
Wiig plays the role of Alice well, bringing with it a variety of idiosyncrasies and mannerisms that add some character and individuality to the character. That said, it is still definitely a ‘Wiig’ performance. There is still her typical deadpan delivery and the same style of humour that she brings to every role, as if from the McCarthy school of acting. Fortunately for Wiig it suits this character well.
What makes this film an enjoyable watch is the supporting cast. Cardellini is admirable as the long-suffering best friend and much less annoying and cardboard than she was in Scooby Doo. Wes Bentley (American Beauty) portrays the intriguing and potentially just as bizarre as Alice Gabe with a quiet yet definite presence. Joan Cusack, as she so often does, steals her scenes. She plays the stressed out, pretty much given-up-so-what-the-hell station employee brilliantly with small yet laugh out loud physical reactions and perfectly timed line delivery.
Welcome To Me is an enjoyable, interesting and in parts laugh out loud dark comedy that brings with it an interesting take on how a person with mental illness views themselves, and how important it is to be able to identify as a person rather than an illness. A film with some real heart, it is worth a watch for anybody who likes films such as It’s a Kind of Funny Story and Silver Linings Playbook.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★