J.D. Lafrance
Welcome to the Rileys DVD Review

Welcome to the Rileys

January 31, 2011

Director: Jake Scott,
Starring: James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo, Eisa Davis, David Jensen, Ally Sheedy,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

You have to give Kristen Stewart credit. She’s managed to parlay the phenomenal success of the Twilight series and using her newfound box office clout to get several independent films, like Adventureland (2009), The Runaways (2010) and Welcome to the Rileys (2010), not only made but actually seen. None of these films have been anywhere near the commercial successes of the Twilight films but so what? They’ve allowed Stewart to grow as an actress and given her the freedom to pick roles that interest her. Rileys sees her playing another emotionally damaged character and how her friendship with another emotionally-scarred person provides a kind of solace, or, at the very least, a glimmer of hope.

After the death of his teenage daughter, Doug Riley (Gandolfini) wanders through life without much purpose. He’s merely going through the motions. The relationship with his wife Lois (Leo) is also on autopilot and lacking any kind of meaningful intimacy – so much so that he’s having an affair on the side. They are both still haunted by the death of their child – something that you never get over. The tension that exists between them is conveyed well by James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo. Nothing is said explicitly but can be felt in their daily interactions.

On a business trip to New Orleans, Doug skips out on a schmoozefest with co-workers and takes refuge in a strip club where he meets Mallory (Stewart), a young stripper whom he unexpectedly finds himself confiding in. However, their relationship gets off to a rocky start when she assumes he’s a cop. He runs into her again at a nearby restaurant and they straighten things out. There’s something about her that reminds him of his teenage daughter and talking to Mallory fills the void created by the death of his child.

Welcome to the Rileys features a nice bit of casting against type for both Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart. Known for playing larger than life characters like Tony Soprano, he portrays Doug as a reserved guy from the suburbs, while she is known for playing shy, awkward types and Mallory is most definitely not that – she’s angry and curses like a sailor. Gandolfini and Stewart play well off each other. Their scenes together (of which there are many) have a wonderful energy as we see these two contrasting personalities from completely different worlds interact.

Unfortunately, Welcome to the Rileys falters for a brief spell in the scenes where we see Lois gradually get accustomed to leaving the house. Director Jake Scott (son of filmmaker Ridley Scott) plays these scenes for laughs and makes her look ridiculous when her fear of leaving the house is very real. It is a credit to Melissa Leo’s skill as an actress that she manages to rise above it with her dignity intact. Once Scott gets these fake moments of levity out of his system, the film rights itself. Welcome to the Rileys is ultimately about damaged people who find comfort in one another and eventually deal with what messed up their lives in the first place. This is a nicely understated slice of life drama driven by characters, which is a breath of fresh air from mainstream Hollywood studio films that have largely abandoned this type of film.

Special Features:

The only extra on this DVD is “Creating the Rileys,” which takes a look at the making of the film, from Jake Scott’s pitch to the finished product. Screenwriter Ken Hixon talks about the inspiration for the story while the actors talk about their characters and then the producers praise them in typical featurette fashion.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 77%



3 Responses to “Welcome to the Rileys”

  1. Tweets that mention Welcome to the Rileys DVD Review | WhatDVD.Net -- Topsy.com on January 31st, 2011 5:58 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by stewnews, Team KPatzz, Kstew & Rob fans, Jennifer Rhines, laura. and others. laura. said: RT @KstewAngel: RT @PattinsonStew 'Welcome to the Rileys' DVD review w/great praises for Kristen http://bit.ly/gGkQmn […]

  2. BrentNo Gravatar on February 15th, 2011 3:58 pm

    Great review. This one slipped under my radar, but sounds great. I always enjoy Gandolfini and it sounds like a perfect role for him.

  3. J.D. LafranceNo Gravatar on February 17th, 2011 5:07 pm

    Yeah, it’s a pretty good film. Didn’t get much coverage but that’s probably because it is a more character-driven type film.

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