“I guess I’m just not used to being around young women who talk about their private parts.”
Cast: James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo
After the death of their teenage daughter, Doug and Lois have grown estranged in their marriage. When Doug goes on a business trip to New Orleans, leaving his agoraphobic wife at home, he meets Mallory, a teenage stripper whom he forms an unusual platonic bond with.
Welcome to the Rileys is directed by Jake Scott, son of famed director Ridley Scott. Unlike his father, Scott Jr. has a more toned down element to his films (his first since 1999) and seems to focus more on the message, rather than the size. While the film does employ the old ‘lost love’, ‘damaged hearts’ and ‘seeking solace’ themes, there are a few strands of originality mixed in which is a nice touch.
There is no question that this story is completely driven by its characters though, and this trio can certainly act. While the story can seem a bit predictable in places and the dialogue can be a little flat, the three of these bring it home.
Firstly we have James Gandolfini, widely known for his run on The Sopranos. As the heartbroken and troubled Doug, he seems to be constantly searching for some form of escape or relief for his heavy heart. The film mainly follows his story though is not restricted to it. Where he really shines as Doug though is when he’s acting off of Leo and Stewart. He manages to get the audience where he wants them, and make them feel his every emotion along the way.
Melissa Leo is fantastic too. Her chemistry with Gandolfini along with how she carries herself in the opening scenes are just great. As the film progresses we also see more from her character, which adds so much to the film and its story, giving both her’s and Gandolfini’s characters a nice developmental angle.
The most impressive acting however, came from Stewart. A lot of people know her from her lacklustre, emotionless and stiff perfomace in the Twilight Saga, though to really see how great she can be, I would urge the audience to watch her in something else. Welcome to the Rileys is just another platform on which she really showcases her talents, which I honestly believe have gone amiss thanks to those teenage films.
Welcome to the Rileys is not a film full of action, but one more of a humble nature with a strong message. Where the script and already-seen formula let it down in some respects, the perfectly cast trio of actors lead the way and pull it right back up again. Full of emotionally charged material, yet unfortunately leaving the ending feeling a bit rushed and unfinished, Welcome to the Rileys has a bit of a ‘take it or leave it’ element. I would recommend a viewing though, it’s nice to see Scott Jr. working the camera!
Star rating: 5.5/10
Directed by Jake Scott.
Running time 110 minutes.