Alice suffers from borderline personality disorder, but she has what she needs in life. She has an apartment, she has a best friend, and she has tapes of every Oprah Winfrey show. And now, after winning the lottery, she also has 83 million dollars. What she doesn't have is an outlet for the whole world to know who she really is. The TV station cut her off when she tried turning her lottery announcement into a frank discussion of her sexual experiences, but with her money in hand, she's off to LA to convince two struggling TV producer brothers to produce her own TV show. Whatever it costs, she's going to do it. From swan entrances to dog neutering, she is going to introduce the world to Alice. But is the world ready for Alice? Written by
Welcome to Me is much more than a dark comedy. It is the evilish innocuous lovechild of whack of center films like Eagle and Shark (2007), Gentleman Broncos (2008), and Lars and The Real Girl (2007) if they coupled with satires like Network (1976), and Bob Roberts (1992), and it does so with dark whimsy, subtle charm, and is laugh-out loud funny.
The resulting film is a superb satire on the all out illusion of the American dream. Firstly, it derides the notion that money and fame are the goal of living while lauding it, a tough balancing act, and, secondly, that, in a country where 70% self-medicate for some form of depression, anxiety, or just can't cope with life, that mental illness is what happens to others. It combines the two, and lets the lunatic take over the asylum. We might well ask whether the crazy is the message or the medium...
Kristen Wiig is Alice. And let's start by saying in this Wonderland it's a great name for the character; and, a name that's almost become a cliché name for all woman in crisis, as Bob has for all blue-collar guys. Alice is a heady mixture of cutely crazy. We tried to list it all, but kind of only got as far as obsessive-compulsive, bipolar, narcissism, and manic-depressive, all veiled behind an obsession with voyeurism by her, and of her, through the TV. And that is the first point: she is non-categorizable - she is not just do-lalley, she is not even complex, she is Alice - wanting the world to love her, and wanting the world to cure her, to cure her past, and to see how important her pain is.
When her own therapist, a snappy turn by Tim Robbins, effectively gives up, Alice gets beyond lucky and gets her chance to have her own TV show through an amoral (or just pragmatic?) James Marsden. What results is a truly roller-coaster ride into Alice's bizarro gonzo world, where her unedited world is literally broadcast.
This is the best satire we've seen is a while. Like Nightcrawler (2014), it pokes the bear of TV for all its worth, and looks at America as a modern freak show, where empty calories and instant gratification have replaced any meaningful content. It is also really a film about the death of TV for the YouTube generation - who under 30 watches more TV than internet now?
This is post-hipster, post-modern, life out loud funny, that leaves you with a bad taste - it is smart, both kind and cruel, and a brilliant take on Modern America. Above all, it is original and deserves to be praised for being a film that belongs more to indie films of the 1970s than now - it is a surprisingly lingering, has just enough sympathy while still skewering its subjects, and for us, is a gob-smacking watch.
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