February 1, 2011
Review - " Welcome to the Rileys " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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Doug heads on down to New Orleans for a work convention. He visits a strip club, but isn't actually interested in the
strippers. Perhaps it's just another place to drown his sorrows. That's where he meets Mallory (Stewart). She gyrates her
hips in front of him and asks him if he wants to go to the "private room." Doug doesn't want to until he sees a pack of guys
from the convention and then decides it might be better that he's not seen. So, he obliges and they head to the room. Doug
isn't interested in Mallory stripping for him. He's like the anti-Tony Soprano. He's just about the nicest guy you'll ever meet.
Doug soon realizes that Mallory is definitely not as old as she's letting on. She's living in squalor, has hardly any money, and
spends her nights as a prostitute. He makes it his mission to help her. Perhaps he's filling the void left by his daughter, or
maybe he's just finding something else to occupy his time.
Just when you think this story is going to be about Doug and Mallory, and how she helps him cope with the loss of his
daughter, Lois enters the picture. Fearing she is finally losing her husband after 30 years of marriage, Lois gets over her
fears and heads down to New Orleans to see what her husband is up to. There she is introduced to Mallory and she
understands why Doug can’t leave the Big Easy because of Mallory’s similarities to their daughter. When Lois ends up in
New Orleans the entire dynamic of the movie changes. Melissa Leo is a special actress and she steals the movie right out
from under the two big name stars.
It's heart warming to see these two parents slip so easily back into parental roles as they try to care for Mallory. Watching
them and their marriage transform is beautiful and fulfilling. What at first you think is a movie about a couple trying to help a
poor young girl out of the gutter, quickly becomes a film about how a marriage can be saved no matter what obstacles stand
in its way.
Gandolfini and Leo are both excellent in the film. Doug wanting to be a father to a girl who he knows isn’t his daughter, but
still has to protect. Lois as the recluse trying to gain her life and marriage back. But the film gets attention because of
Kristen Stewart. The teens and tweens love the Twilight franchise and this role is clearly K-Stew’s attempt to be seen as
something completely different. Very little clothing, constant use of the f-bomb and slang words for female body parts is
definitely not something tweens will be used to from their Bella.
Stewart looks haggard, and as the camera zooms in on her face, we see that the years of living on her own working strip
clubs and back alleys have certainly taken their toll. She's also covered in reddish bruises that are perfectly visible, adding
to the already dreadful backstory of this young girl.
Welcome to the Rileys is a pleasant, heart-warming movie about a couple who try to help a young girl. Watching Doug and
Lois work through their differences and try to patch together their own marriage is admirable. These are courageous
characters. Their story is simple and charming.
Some people will love Welcome to the Rileys. Others will wonder why it was even made. The storyline was something that
could have been powerful and moving and Jake Scott could have a promising career, but blockbuster this isn't and not even
quite sure if its a sleeper hit.
Welcome to the Rileys
Directed by: Jake Scott
Starring: James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, Kristen Stewart, Elsa Davis
Welcome to the Rileys is a new indie film from director Jake Scott.
Jake, the son of acclaimed director Ridley Scott, seems to have a
style all his own. Ridley is known for CGI, action, epic type films
(Alien, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Robin Hood, American
Gangster), but Jake's 'Rileys' is a complete 180 degrees. A dialogue
driven, character film and darling of the Sundance Film Festival.
Rileys is a powerful drama about finding hope in the most unusual of
places. Maybe "powerful drama" is overtsating it a bit.
Even though Stewart's name, and the fact that she was playing a
stripper, was the main draw to this movie, she's actually
overshadowed by stellar performances from both James Gandolfini
and Melissa Leo.
The plot is simple enough. Several years ago Doug Riley (Gandolfini)
and his wife Lois (Leo) lost their daughter in a car accident. They've
slowly drifted apart. Doug spends most of his time playing poker with
his buddies and having an affair with a local waitress. Lois has
become agoraphobic and won't even leave the house to get the
paper from the driveway. They barely talk to each other.
This isn't one of those strained marriages where they yell nonstop at
each other. Instead they both suffer in silence. You can tell that they
still love each other, but since the loss of their child, they seem to act
like there's nothing left to live for.