Review: Welcome to Me
It’s a precariously tightrope that Welcome to Me walks, but it’s executed near-perfectly. A woman with borderline personality disorder is at the center of a story that is both darkly comic and frustratingly tragic.
After winning the lottery, Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig), a lover of telling stories about herself and watching television on end, decides to put her money to curious use. She endeavors to make her own talk show in vein of her idol, Oprah Winfrey. She has also quit her medications, leading to both comic and uncomfortable incidents, usually in the same breath.
Striving to be on TV, and oblivious to those defiant producers who eventually wither at the prospect of a monetary windfall, Klieg is only somewhat sympathetic. This isn’t necessarily a tale about coping with mental illness or a misunderstood woman; we have also commentary on obsession with celebrity culture, a desire to be famous, and the need to feel better about ourselves by sharing in our ailments.
As it is, Wiig’s performance carries the entirety of the film despite being surrounded by James Marsden, Linda Cardellini, Tim Robbins, and Joan Cusack, among others. They all play caricatures, from TV execs to therapists, while conversely, Klieg is complex and compelling.
Not just a vehicle for Wiig, however, Shira Piven’s directorial features also challenges the audiences, and looks to divide them as well. How willing are we to accept Klieg’s stubborn, fame-seeking nature? Is it better to be happy and naïve than to succumb to the problems of reality? While Welcome to Me heads towards a third act catharsis of sorts, leaving a trail of unease and awkward, potent laughter in its wake.