James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo and Kristen Stewart give standout performances in the otherwise mediocre Welcome to the Rileys
BY: AMANDA STEFANIUK at uptownmag
Welcome to the Rileys
A talented cast can make a good script great and an awful one bearable. In the case of this Sundance Festival darling, stars James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart — the Twilight ingénue proves she can emote when she wants to — make a mediocre story of damaged souls interesting.
Gandolfini and Leo play Doug and Lois Riley, a married couple who are still struggling to cope with the death of their teenage daughter eight years later. Lois has confined herself to the house; she’s so emotionally broken she makes her hairdresser come to her. No longer able to connect with his wife, Doug starts up an affair with a waitress (Eisa Davis) — but when she unexpectedly dies of a heart attack, he’s suddenly anchorless. During a business trip to New Orleans he finds new hope in a 16-year-old stripper/prostitute (Stewart) who reminds him of his lost daughter. Doug moves in with her as a way to protect her, and soon Lois’ agoraphobia is lifted when she, too, moves to Louisiana to complete their new makeshift family.
Gandolfini continues to take challenging roles that are miles removed from Tony Soprano, and Leo continues her career resurgence which began with Frozen River. Stewart’s usual fan base may be shocked by her gritty role, but she does a commendable job of portraying the teen struggling to deal with the Rileys’ sudden affection.