WELCOME TO THE RILEYS – Sundance Movie Review
WELCOME TO THE RILEYS is a film that I really loved at this year’s Sundance. It is directed by Jake Scott and stars James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, and Melissa Leo.
Welcome to the Rileys follows the story of Doug Riley, a married man, who while taking a business trip in New Orleans, starts an unlikely friendship with an underage stripper, Mallory (Kristen Stewart). He tells his wife, Lois (Melissa Leo) that he won’t come home for a while and she decides to take a trip to New Orleans to reclaim her marriage. Now this might seem like an ok story, but add on top of that the fact Doug and Lois lost their teenage daughter, that Lois hasn’t left the house ever since, and the fact that Mallory reminds Doug of his daughter, and you have Welcome to the Rileys.
I thought the story was very beautiful and had such a great character study and dynamic. It really is about how three strangers can change each other, and even though Doug and Lois are technically married, it is clear that they have been strangers to each other for years.
The film is very raw and doesn’t always go where you expect it to. The performances are really incredible and only help you get immersed in the universe of these three individuals.
James Gandolfini shows a softer side of himself in Welcome to the Rileys, which we don’t often see him portray. I thought it suited him so well and made the character really likeable. This is probably one of my favorite parts he has played so far.
Melissa Leo is amazing as Lois, she just captured that character so perfectly and created some really funny moments, such as her not being able to figure out how to move the automatic seat in the car before leaving for New Orleans (one of the funniest scenes). But even more impressive, she goes through such an interesting transformation as a character, it’s hard not to enjoy watching her on screen.
As for Kristen Stewart, she proves without a doubt that she can hold her own in any movie, and is not tied in any way to her character of Bella in the Twilight Saga, which not every actor would be able to do with such a franchise. If you’re a fan of hers, you’ll find her pretty unrecognizable in Welcome to the Rileys. Mallory is also a very interesting character because of not only the relationship she has with Doug, but also the journey she goes on after she meets him.
Overall, I found the film really great. The story is so beautiful and well played out, you won’t always know what’s coming next. It has humor and heartbreaking moments. The performances are impeccable and give you a realistic look at the lives of these characters. The movie will take you on a trip with these broken people and it’s an amazing trip to take.