People trash Kristen Stewart because of Twilight, but it's her little movies - the dramas that have dotted her short career - that remind us just how talented the actress really is. Welcome to the Rileys is just one more of those reminders.
Also starring James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo, Welcome to the Rileys
is about a desperate, frustrated husband who, while on a business trip in New Orleans, decides to remain in the city indefinitely - despite being married. While there, he forms an unlikely fatherly relationship with a teenage stripper. Will it destroy his marriage or save it?
There is nothing significantly powerful about Welcome to the Rileys
, and yet it's refreshingly unique in a way I just can't describe. A feel-good movie disguised at first as a gritty drama, it features great performances by its three leads and an engrossing story.
Stewart is excellent as the troubled teenager, a girl who masks her innocence and naivety about the world with crudeness and impulsiveness. Stewart embodies her character, locking onto the emotional core of a seemingly unsympathetic character.
Gandolfini will never be seen as anyone but Tony Soprano. It's a sad fate for the man as people tend to forget that he's an actor, and a good one at that. His performance here is also excellent if understated.
More importantly, he and Stewart have amazing chemistry with each other. The tug-and-war relationship between the two is extraordinarily engaging, one that grows and evolves in unpredictable and sometimes grating ways.
As for Leo, she was nominated for an Oscar for the wrong movie. She's received massive attention for The Fighter
, but her neurotic, troubled performance in Welcome to the Riley
is much more nuanced and emotional.
Welcome to the Rileys
is a surprisingly good movie, one that got lost in the shuffle for whatever reason. It isn't inspiring or overpowering, but it works nonetheless.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.