Welcome to Me
EIFF 2015: Kristen Wiig heads up this seesawing satire from Shira Piven
Self-obsessed, devoted to The Oprah Winfrey Show, and off the meds that rein in some of her more socially challenging tendencies, Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) knows exactly what she wants to spend her loot on when she wins big in the state lottery. Alice wants her own TV show, in which she will lay her psyche bare for the watching world. Seeing dollar signs, an unscrupulous cable production company gives her a set and a slot; and Alice proceeds to make public everything from her fights with her mother to her unique take on high-protein cooking.
Shira Piven's second narrative feature benefits from a good, grim, pertinent conceit, which plays on the onslaught of social media self-exposure, and brings home the realisation that The Truman Show singularly underestimated human exhibitionism by assuming its protagonist would be upset about his life being broadcast.
Alice represents a type many of us have in our lives: the oversharer who has unlimited interest in the nuances of his or her own inner life, but gives scant consideration to what’s going on with anybody else. But her story is messily told, and the film is confused about whether it wants to stir our emotions, make us think about our attitudes to mental illness, or just have us laugh at a loser.
Wiig’s wearying brand of deadpan zaniness seems to work for a lot of people, but here it’s stretched to its thinnest. Alice is too over-the-top and phoney to be really funny, and too unlikable to elicit much feeling. At its best, the film is an exercise in unflinching, politically incorrect meanness, as if Todd Solondz had remade Napoleon Dynamite. But there’s an awful lot of baggy, repetitive, histrionic material in-between the good bits, and an impressive supporting cast (including Linda Cardellini, Joan Cusack, Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh) is largely wasted due to the unrelenting focus on Wiig.
Screening on Sun 21 and Tue 23 Jun as part of the Edinburgh International Festival 2015. General release TBC.