• Welcome To The Rileys



    Released By: Sony
    Released On: 02/01/2011
    Director: Jake Scott
    Cast: James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, Kristen Stewart, Ally Sheedy

    The Film:

    In this day of mega-blockbuster cinematic letdowns, it’s comforting to know that there are still good writers and solid actors in the world that are dedicated to making good films. Welcome To The Rileys is one of these films, an emotional look at a strangely broken home.

    Doug Riley (James Gandolfini) owns his own plumbing business, drives a Cadillac, has a nice home, and can afford to lose his shirt in a weekly poker game. His wife, Lois (Melissa Leo) doesn’t have to leave her home, isn’t required to work, and has a hairdresser who does house calls. For a few moments, they are pretty much the portrayal of success. But some things are obviously not right; Doug is having an affair with a local waitress, Lois isn’t staying at home by her own choice as opposed to a mental condition, and there’s a well-preserved girl’s bedroom at the end of the hall that brings up awkward silences when it’s discussed by a visitor.

    While traveling with his brother-in-law to New Orleans on a business trip, Doug meets Mallory (Kristen Stewart), a teenage stripper in the French Quarter of the city. Motivated by the sense of loss and responsibility for his deceased daughter, Doug takes it upon himself to care for her. In a series of drastic actions, he informs his brother-in-law that he’s selling his business, he informs his wife that he’s not coming home for awhile, and he moves into Mallory’s run down house where he assumes the role of father figure to the damaged runaway.

    Drawn to her husband by raw emotion, Lois breaks free of the confines of her home, her sedatives, and her antidepressants, and, paper bag in hand in case of hyperventilation, makes the drive from Indiana to New Orleans to be with Doug. For both of the Rileys, this is the first step in a healing process that they have both been avoiding since the car crash that killed their teenage daughter, and they both find themselves trying to make up for their mistakes by helping Mallory….with mixed results.

    Welcome to the Rileys has a lot going for it, and the anchor of that potential is Ken Hixon’s excellent script. The dialogue comes off as natural to most of the players, and although there isn’t a lot happening on screen at any particular time, it is his characters that the actors are bringing to life. A spectacular cast in the form of Gandolfini and Leo helps move everything along, especially Gandolfini, whom one imagines hasn’t had the easiest time shaking his Tony Soprano typecasting. Unfortunately, a cast is sometimes only as strong as its weakest link, and Gandolfini and Leo both have their work cut out for them in dragging along Kristen Stewart. It’s hard to imagine a worse casting choice than Stewart; notorious for her confused, wooden acting style, she yanks the viewer out of reality every time she utters a line, and she is completely unconvincing as the troubled runaway. As a result, her scenes almost demolish the established story’s credibility, and it is only through the talent of the other cast members that Welcome To The Rileys remains a worthwhile film.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Welcome To The Rileys is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic and looks great on this blu ray presentation. Colours are well-balanced and free of noise and artefacts, and the shots of New Orleans look wonderful. The 5.1 DTS HD track doesn’t have the activity of an action film, but the dialogue is clear and consistent throughout the film with no issues.

    Creating The Rileys is a short featurette with Writer Ken Hixon, Director Jake Scott, the Producers of the film and various cast members, and has a good amount of information presented in the short running time on getting the movie made, the inspiration behind Hixon’s script, and the concerns over casting Gandolfini.

    A Trailer Reel is also included in the supplements.

    The Final Word:

    One of the better movies of 2010, Welcome To the Rileys is well worth the watch, particularly for the performances of James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo.