Welcome to the Rileys Review

Jake Scott (son of Ridley) directs this story of lost souls searching for salvation. After the death of their teenage daughter, Lois and Doug’s marriage is on the rocks. During a trip away from home, Doug finds solace in a young stripper called Mallory, who also prostitutes herself for extra cash. His desire to still be a father-figure compels him to help Mallory change her life. However, Mallory’s damaging past and lack of desire to adjust her life makes it difficult for Doug to provide help.

The discussion of such a sensitive topic could easily have made Welcome to the Rileys incredibly dark. However, the focus seems to be more on the effect of Mallory’s life rather than a depiction of the services she provides; making the story more poignant and less exploitive. The story itself is a little dull at the start but does get progressively better. The scenes with Melissa Leo in the first half, as a woman going crazy ‘American Beauty’-style in her own home, get a little tedious but are soon left behind as the focus shifts to Mallory. The neat exploration of the ‘American dream’ compared to reality, as Doug smokes in the garage and his wife’s hands tremble as she pops pills in the kitchen, is done well. There is also some dark humour, such as when Doug protests after finding out his wife already has a headstone waiting in the cemetery for them, to which she responds plainly “A lot of people do this Doug. It’s called pre-planning”.

Having often been slated for her wooden acting, Kristen Stewart is surprisingly brilliant as Mallory. She really shines by providing the dominating ‘I’m cooler than you’ presence she always does so well. Her ability to look both grubby and beautiful at the same time makes her a perfect casting choice. Playing the foul-mouthed Mallory does seem like an attempt to prevent being type-cast in the future. Stewart’s role in ‘The Runaways’ also helped her breakaway from the Twilight films, an approach that the young Harry Potter stars should maybe have considered many years ago.

James Gandolfini plods along as Doug to the best of his ability but doesn’t attempt to give a particularly memorable performance. At times his heavy breathing and overpowering presence next to Stewart makes him almost creepy. Doug and Mallory’s relationship is odd and there are some awkward conversations between them. This could, however, be clearly highlighting the differences between the two generations and the problems parents often face in communicating with their children. It’s moments like these which make the film creditable; more so than some of the early attempts at showing grief but the lack character development to make it effective.

Welcome to the Rileys is an exploration of the darker sides of life, without being too explicit. Its release could potentially attract the wrong audience, as it is certainly not made to satisfy fans of Twilight or The Sopranos. It may also suffer from sharing its release date with the latest Twilight instalment. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth seeing for Stewart’s performance.

Welcome to the Rileys is released November 18th

About The Author

Alice is a student who hopes to one day be a full-time journalist. Films have been a big part of her life; especially those from the horror genre. While attending her school's film club she won the national review of the week twice. She is currently studying Film at the University and Warwick. Her favourite directors include David Lynch, Wong Kar-wai and Stanley Kubrick.

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