Welcome To Me Review – Strong Ensemble Performance Tackles Mental Illness with Humor

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Welcome to Me, from Bron Studios and Gary Sanchez Productions, brings to the screen a sharp, edgy, entertaining experiment into the mind of an engaging, although, somewhat narcissistic lottery winner to the chagrin of those around her.

Directed by Shira Piven, Welcome to Me stars Kristen Wiig, and a strong supporting cast including Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins, Wes Bentley, James Marsden and Linda Cardellini. Welcome to Me was written by Eliot Laurence.

Welcome to Me begins in a darkened messy room, in the early morning hours, as Alice Klieg, embodied by Kristen Wiig, a functioning bi-polar, manic depressive, AHD, who needs repetition to feel in control, is hooked on a late night infomercial. To say she is a creature of habit is mild.

As the sun rises on this day we meet her core support team: a friend, Gina played by Linda Cardellini, Dr. Moffat, her psychiatrist, played by Tim Robbins, and also a few of the strangers who also live in Palm Desert California, a tiny oasis in the desert  . . .somewhere.

The need for repetition is known by all and without asking, the deli owner, in a uncredited role, takes Alice her breakfast as she chats with a stranger, includes a lottery ticket and coffee, along with the change as she routinely pays everyday exactly the same, with cash, and receives the exact change every day, 365 days a year, for as long as she can remember.

Tonight the Powerball jackpot numbers are read and our Alice suddenly, who with a medicated evenness, wins the 86 million dollar jackpot.

Never quite understanding why the world has boundaries, being California’s newest multi-millionaire eases the restrictions and Alice believes she can tell the world the truth and it will care, welcome her opinions and critiques.

Stumbling on a struggling local TV station, she decides wants a talk show and she will call it Welcome to Me so she can tell her story to the world. This is the point where Welcome to Me, turns into a serious dramedy.

The comedic moments, as the very strong ensemble cast, Joan Cusak, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wes Bentley and James Marsden become Alice's newest support system, are so well played and laugh out loud funny.

The Welcome to Me producing team inadvertently becomes dependent, while trying to maintain a level of professionalism, on Alice’s willingness to stake the station and pay out of pocket for the production costs and she becomes a lifeline as the tiny television studio in the middle of the desert has yet to become the mecca of late night insomniacs.

As the show airs, the night owls suddenly see something in the narcissist sadness. Recreating what she considered the defining moments of her childhood, adolescence and teen years, she begins to use the time to pay back those whom, in her medicated mind, have injured her.

Self-adsorbed, lost, out of her routine and off her meds, Alice, becomes increasingly harmful and injurious to others, herself and the overwhelming despair translates. Suddenly her friend, of which she has one, loses her job, and instead of offering to help her ridicules her on the show.

I was very impressed with this indie. It is exceptional. Welcome to Me has moments of chortling laughter and equal sadness as the film is very well acted and the mental health issues are presented with authenticity. 

There are many fine moments in Welcome to Me, with a sharp support cast who delivers strong performances while poking fun at the television production process.

Welcome to Me is an entertaining, sharp, and edgy box office choice. Welcome to Me opens May 1, 2015. Check local listings.

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