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
This is the story of Alice Kleig (Kristen Wiig). She wakes up every day at 12: 15, her TV has been on for ten years, she knows by heart a great number of Oprah Winfrey shows. Alice was diagnosed bipolar at 16. Well as she explains it, in those days it was called manic-depressive, then bipolar and now borderline personality disorder. Alice win 86 millions of dollars at the lottery.
So she pays for her own TV show, where she'll be the host and will talk about herself. This film could be considered as a critic of our selfie and real TV era where anyone plays his/her life as a show. It could be seen as a critic of how people consummate themselves in their image, and lose their soul with this profusion of extimity, like American Indian who thought that pictures stole their soul. But instead of being a parody, and a critic Welcome to Me stays focused on Alice. And Welcome to Me becomes an idea of what would be the equivalent of Outsider art for television. Alice is helped in creating what she wants by her greedy producer, and her knowledge of television, so the show looks like a performance, and this kind of humour reminds of Andy Kaufman's. It is brilliant.
The soundtrack use is very interesting. I was very interested in the way a weird song like Happy Talk by Daniel Johnston is used as a standard. Is he credited? Or is it some kind of standard I didn't know of? The fact that the author uses his music, or the music he used shows that she's interested of the creativity of madness. (In fact Daniel Johnston created a show called Welcome to my World, so he probably inspired Shira Piven or Eliot Laurence the writer (impossible to say).
What Alice exposes here, are her defense mechanisms against falling apart, all of the creation of her soul to hold on to herself: her things ordered by colours (once I was very bored and colour coordinated my books), her highly proteinated diet, her traumas and she's capable of putting all that in a form that makes it watchable (a student in communication compares her work to Cindy Sherman's). Like the filmmaker who turned Daniel Johnston's music into a jazz standard, Alice's world is standardized for television, and makes madness watchable. (This is so rare in cinema, that it makes this film very important).
Madness is sort of censured by general medias; it scares people, so it's very rare to have it portrayed in an interesting and creative way. It's most of the time reduced (especially since the DSMs became psychiatric bibles, cutting the classical mental categories into symptoms and little pieces) to neurological troubles, and simplify the human being as if we were only a mass of facts. But Alice because of the considerable sum she won can beat the censorship, explain herself, and tell her life like no one ever heard it. The film doesn't try to explain her madness or to cure it, but it shows her humanity and her fight to be defined by something else than a diagnostic that changes with medical fashions
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