The first thing I thought to myself as the end credits rolled was “That was not at all what expected!” and that is definitely a good thing. With Welcome To The Rileys, all I knew about it was that it starred James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart, and that Stewart played a stripper. That alone got my interest, as she is an interesting actress. She is in one of the biggest tween franchises with Twilight, yet she doesn’t really tend to take roles in big films. She seems to prefer the indie scene, and she is definitely a better actress when she is there. I honestly don’t mind her, I think Twilight has definitely tainted everything she does. So with that in-mind I tried to forget Bella Swan and venture into this film.
The film is about three people, Doug (Gandolfini) a husband to the reclusive Lois (Melissa Leo), both are clearly unhappy with their lives. Lois never leaves the house, and Doug seems to spend a lot of time away from the house. This is because Lois and Doug lost their 15 year old daughter many years earlier and both aren’t coping with it. When Doug takes a trip to New Orleans he meets a young stripper Mallory (Kristen Stewart). He decides to say in New Orleans with Mallory, in the hopes he can find what he’s been missing in his life. This forces Lois to make a big decision if she wants to save her marriage.
The relationships are central to this film, what is what the film is about after all. It shows exactly what it can take for two people to move on after a great loss. For Lois and Doug, it took Mallory for them to really deal with their loss and even have a change to repair their marriage. It also is about Mallory, and how she also is missing something in her life and while she doesn’t quite understand it and realises it, she does need Doug. The performances are all quite good, Kristen Stewart plays the trashy stripper quite well actually. She really seemed like a clueless girl, and one who doesn’t quite understand the world. James Gandalfini definitely played his part well, he kind of disappeared into Doug. There was a great sadness to his character, and once it becomes clear why he’s drawn to Mallory it really hits hard. The stand out though was Melissa Leo as Lois, a woman dealing with some deep demons who isn’t even able to leave her house to collect the paper out front. She has the biggest journey out of the three, and this supporting role of her rivals the excellence of her role in The Fighter.
I can see how this film might not appeal to everyone, it really is something else. It is a quiet film, a true drama which also happens to feel real as well. It surprised me as I also wasn’t expecting much going into this. I almost expected a film like Mini’s First Time but this was far from that, perhaps the advertising for the film was a bit off, I am not sure. It is a really well written (by Ken Hixon) and directed film (by Jake Scott), and I do hope this finds an audience. It is well worth a watch, and I’d suggest putting anything you have against Twilight away because this is not that Kristen Stewart, and it isn’t a sleazy film either. I was really impressed with Welcome To The Rileys, everything about it was impressive. Just be prepared for an emotional ride, it will certainly dig up feelings inside you.