In Welcome to Me (2014), Kristin Wiig plays a mentally ill Oprah-addict named Alice Klieg who wins the lottery, stops taking her medicine, and finances her own talk show. Episodes include re-enactments of her most awkward moments, angry telephone calls with her mother and therapist, and silent meals. She rides in on a swan to a song she recorded.
I like sad movies starring comedians. Big Fan with Patton Oswalt is another great one if you like that too. Wiig’s cringe-inducing physical comedy translates really well to serious acting. It’s cool to see her talents shape a three-dimensional character. Unlike the baby-hands routine from SNL comes to mind, but this time in a character we can understand and get to know.
I asked my dad, a lifelong mental health worker, to watch the film and see if the film’s portrayal of someone with bipolar disorder holds true to his experience. He thought so. Dad’s best friend is bipolar. Walking the beach together during a manic episodes, his friend thought he was god. He complained about all the beach-goers tramping over his creation.
Welcome to Me is a movie about narcissism. Alice’s rise to fame can’t help but call to mind the base appeal of reality television, selfie-sticks, and tabloid journalism. But when her mother caustically calls her an “emotional exhibitionist,” stand-up comedy itself comes to mind. Mark Maron, Maria Banford and Louis CK all plunge their most uncomfortable thoughts and feelings for material.
It’s an enjoyably ambiguous movie. Wiig’s character can be inspiring, even when she seems like such a train-wreck. Things get real toward the end so watch it when you can take some bitter with your sweet.