Wednesday, 7 March 2012

“Welcome to The Rileys” on DVD. A Review Of The 2011 Film.

"…He's So Old School…"

Kristen Stewart will of course get the lion's share of publicity on this one as a prostitute that's one step away from oblivion (she actually deserves the hype that surrounds her) - but for me it's the combo of James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo who are astonishing.

Directed by Jake Scott and Executive Produced by his famous relations Tony and Ridley of Scott Free Productions - 2010's "Welcome To The Rileys" is a small independent movie with a big heart and even bigger performances.

Doug Riley is on autopilot - playing out his joyless poker games on Thursday night with the boys - sleeping with Vivienne the waitress in the local diner - not sleeping with Lois his wife of 30 years. But there's a reason for his wife's frigidity and her desperately lonely pill taking - not to mention Doug's quiet sobbing in the garage with a cigarette in the dark. Both Doug and Lois lost their 15-year old daughter Emily in an avoidable car accident in 2001 - and with unspoken hurt and unallocated blame - have been escalating damaged goods ever since. But when Vivien his diner-lover of 4 years dies (a subtle performance by Eisa Davis) and Doug goes on a business holiday to New Orleans - he gets more than he bargained for when he goes upstairs with a 17-year old pole dancer and hooker. And this is where the real story begins...

The acting in "Welcome To The Rileys" is top class and goes a long to forgiving the largely terrible picture quality (a lot of night shots with little or no clarity). First up is a magnificent turn by Gandolfini. In what could have been such a pervy role, he lends his big-bruiser Doug a good-man's gravitas that is wholly believable. Melissa Leo gets the toughest role - and she eats it up with a performance that keeps you glued. And then there's the talented and beautiful Kristen - her jumpy malnourished creation is all spotty skin, blurred eye shadow and bruised limbs. Mallory has been dumped on all of her life - and her street-fighting cornered-rat mistrust of everything takes some breaking through. But Doug is determined - and so is his wife - who comes after Doug and has to make some major life-adjustments herself. All three have been rightly applauded for their work in this...

Ok - "Welcome To The Rileys" is perhaps a little implausible at times - but the writing and the storytelling will slowburn their way into your heart. And it has an ending that isn't pat - despite the huge pressure there must have been on Jake Scott to deliver just that - happy families all the way...

A bit of an overlooked gem frankly. I liked this film a lot.

Put it high on your rental list.

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