Oprah: a goddess among women, at least, she is to Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) who watches reruns of the “The Oprah Show” frequently; a mindless effort, she utters Oprah’s monologues verbatim for no one else to hear. She wakes at the crack of noon to begin her daily musings: a visit to the local convenience store and a therapy session; by nightfall, she escapes into the world of daytime talk and endless nostalgia.
Alice, we realize moments later, suffers from borderline personality disorder. Shaded in bleak darkness, the blinds in her apartment constantly crave natural light, the television drones loudly for hours on end, and her puppy wanders aimlessly through various heaps of clothing day in after day out. Weeks later, when she wins the mega – million dollar jackpot, she proceeds to spend quarter of her fortune on creating and starring in her own talk show entitled “Welcome to Me”. Before long, chaos ensues as Alice’s requests grow more and more absurd with each passing episode.
Her production team, an ensemble cast featuring James Marsden, Joan Cusack, and Wes Bentley, are caricatures in their own right; yet they, unlike Alice, are able to distinguish between the swallowing world of television and their inescapable realities. Her council, best friend (Linda Cardellini), is present for every crisis or triumph, her therapist (Tom Robbins) is supportive when necessary, and her ex – husband and his lover are optimists if not realists about their estranged relationship with Alice.
A centrepiece for disaster, Alice thrives in the most uncomfortable of situations, yet layered within the folds of comedy emerges a deeper conversation about mental illness, love, and the importance of self-actualization.
Throughout the course of the film, Alice’s motives are never questioned; challenged at times, but rarely objected. As a result, she is able maneuver through life certain of her predispositions, as if the world has simply just misunderstood.
Under the direction of Shira Piven, and script of Eliot Laurence, “Welcome to Me”, celebrates comedian Kristen Wiig as she delves gracefully into the mind of Alice Klieg. Unlike her usual repertoire of characters, Wiig creates a complex individual for viewers to enjoy, sympathize, and admire.
Shot in the Greater Los Angeles Area, “Welcome to Me” captures scenic elements that only enhance Wiig’s vibrant portrayal. Multiple tracking shots eclipse desolate roads and a desert in waiting as Alice, head out the window, advances speedily down a vast stretch of road. Interior sets fluctuate between the disarray of a bedroom, to the Feng Shui of a therapist’s office, to the extravagance of a television studio making “Welcome to Me” as disjointed as Alice’s misery.
Shrouded in delusion, Alice is unable to avail herself of the consequences that result from her idiosyncrasy. She longs to create a world that she can disappear within, at the same time, she struggles to cope with the world she actually lives in. Even after an unfortunate mishap and a trip to the burn unit, Alice leaves us with a feeling that she is going to be okay. Content with her emotional malformations, her uniqueness, Alice welcomes the audience not just to her manic solace, but to a fanciful serenity over barren with resentment and affliction.