Welcome to Me (2014)

(On Cable TV, February 2016) It quickly gets obvious that Welcome to Me isn’t meant to be a conventional laugh-fest. Specializing in the kind of cringe-inducing comedy that seems all-too-popular lately, Welcome to Me wants to be an absurdist character piece, studying what happens when a woman with deep and complex psychological issues suddenly becomes (thanks to a lottery win) able to do whatever she wants in an effort to find closure. That “something” ends up being producing her own TV show, which she uses to relive her past, interview acquaintances, realize some fantasies and exact revenge on those who have wronged her. Nonchalantly wielding a chequebook to pave over any objections, she purchases the services of a struggling production studio and goes wild in conceiving and hosting the show. In other hands, with other intentions, this could have been very, very funny. But that’s not what director Shira Piven and star Kirsten Wiig are about. As you may expect from Wiig (who seems to be adopting neurotic debilitation as a crucial element of her screen persona), the film induces one wince after another, smothering the comic value of its ideas into a heavy gauze of pitiable narcissism, enablers and aghast witnesses. The ending is more than a little frustrating, showing only incremental progress rather than the all-out catharsis that many would have preferred. Wiig actually isn’t bad in the lead role, which requires a lot more dramatic prowess than comic chops. But that’s in keeping with a film that is considerably sadder than it could have been had the intention been to go for a straight-up comedy. Maybe there’s another, very different film waiting to be made using this exact premise.

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