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Welcome to the Rileys (Blu-ray Review)

26 Jan, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Street 2/1/11
Sony Pictures
Box Office $0.2 million
$28.95 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong sexual content.
Stars James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo.

Hope is lost for Doug (James Gandolfini) and Lois (Melissa Leo) Riley in the aftermath of their 15-year-old daughter’s death.

They cope with that void in different ways. Lois becomes an agoraphobic who hasn’t left her suburban Indianapolis home in years. The headstones that Lois purchases next to their beloved Emily’s grave are an outward manifestation of inward feelings. Her life is practically over, but Doug finds reasons to live.

Doug has been having an affair with a waitress from the pancake house he frequents after his weekly poker games. But his mistress’ sudden death marks a return to that same feeling of emptiness that arose when Emily died eight years ago. So Doug is eager to get away on a business trip to New Orleans.

Once there, he encounters Mallory (Kristen Stewart), a sullied, foul-mouthed stripper. The feisty, 16-year-old runaway throws herself at Doug, offering him a private dance, among other sexual favors. But rather than take the bait, Doug sees in Mallory a lost child in dire need of a father figure. This proves to be yet another coping mechanism for Doug, who longs for someone to care about in the absence of his daughter and a happy marriage.

On a whim, Doug chooses to stay in New Orleans at the teen’s run-down apartment. But Lois fights back for once, overcoming her insecurities and attempting to salvage her strained marriage. Oddly, Doug, Lois and Mallory end up developing a familial bond, which is much needed for all parties.

Welcome to the Rileys is interesting to watch because it doesn’t fall into the clichés that could be tempting with these common character types. Stewart gives a remarkable performance in this drastic departure from her “Twilight” series role, while Gandolfini and Leo bring depth to their characters.

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