Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome To The Rileys - Poignant and Inspiring Yarn

The most poignant moment in Jake Scott’s Welcome To The Rileys” happens between married couple Doug and Lois (James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo, respectively).

At first glance, the couple lives a harmonious and affluent household. But not long ago, they lost their only daughter in a car accident. Lois has become agoraphobic, refusing to get out of their house. This has ushered an unusual household mechanics that they have to deal with on a daily basis. As a consequence, Doug tries to stay away from the depressive atmosphere of his home life. When Doug’s mistress suddenly succumbs to an illness, the strain in the couple’s relationship starts to unravel. Doug is inconsolable. When he had to attend a conference in New Orleans, he meets a tough talking stripper Mallory (Kristen Stewart) who reminds Doug of his daughter. He suddenly refuses to return to Indianapolis, posing himself as Mallory’s guardian. What happens to the agoraphobic Lois?

Once Lois learns of her husband’s plans, she gathers herself, and with all her resolve, braves her fears, and drives her car to see Doug in New Orleans. This is a daunting 1,320 kilometers (820 miles)! It was her first time in the outside world – in 5 years!

The couple’s reunion was awash with emotions; tentative glances, elation, and a deep affection that’s palpable and real! Such moments make cinema a repository of priceless moments!

I am not a fan of “The Sopranos” but Gandolfini absolutely won me over. It was refreshing to find Kristen Steward exploring emotions outside Bella Swan’s constant pout, she was almost “scary” as the foul mouthed Mallory (with enough cuss words to hang around a Christmas tree).

Melissa Leo on the other offered the most insightful performance as the grieving Lois who allowed her husband to keep an extra marital affair. At times, she reminded me of Helen Mirren. Her understated grace is too far removed from her Oscar nominated turn as a human trafficker in “Frozen River”, as well as her Golden Globe winning role as Mark Wahlberg’s feisty mom in “The Fighter”. It’s these understated character studies that make watching movies so fulfilling.

Doug becomes guardian to wayward soul Mallory. Here, they wait for laundry together.

Agoraphobic Lois refuses to leave her house, until his husband decides to stay in New Orleans.

Aside from the Twilight sequels, Kristen Stewart will be part of Jack Kerouac's road tales, "On The Road" - directed by one of my favorite directors Walter Salles ("Behind the Sun", "Central Station", "The Motorcycle Diaries").

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