Review: Welcome To The Rileys, and What’s In It For Twilight Fans

I think every Twilight fan in the world is pretty sick and tired of the assumptions people make about the Twilight Saga: it’s just for teens, it’s for brainless housewives, it’s an abstinence, LDS conversion text, …the list goes on. Those of us who have read the books know it isn’t any of those things, and the prejudgement by people who haven’t actually read the books makes us nuts. To quote one of my friends who is a recent Twilight reader, “I can’t believe I resisted it for so long. What’s on the Internet is really exaggerated.”

In the same way, the early pre-press on Welcome to the Rileys classifying it as “a stripper movie” does the same disservice. It’s no more “just a stripper movie” any more than Pretty Woman was “just a hooker movie” almost two decades ago. It has a lot of the same themes as Pretty Woman: redemption, wounded people finding and healing each other, rebirth into who you want to be. Unlike Pretty Woman, the life of a runaway, teen stripper in New Orleans isn’t sanitized, but at the same token it isn’t gratuitously revealing.

Kristen Stewart plays Mallory, the little girl lost in the seamier side of New Orleans. You see the traces of what life on the streets has done to Mallory: cuts, bad skin, circles under her eyes, vocabulary that would make a truck driver do a spit-take, never mind blush. When Mallory is not in the clothing her job requires, she is in overly baggy jeans and over-sized tees that look like Salvation Army specials. In a sense, it’s her armor against the life and neighborhood that she has found herself stuck in. It’s a way of separating, albeit subconsciously, Mallory the stripper from Mallory the person, and hanging onto a vestige of self-respect. The biggest thing you understand is that Mallory is a fighter. She’s a survivor to keep going, but until she meets Doug, played by James Gandofini, a long-term future, or a goal past waking up the next day wasn’t that clear.

James Gandofini and Melissa Leo play a married couple who are just going through the motions of life after the tragic death of their teenage daughter. They are stuck in much the same rut as Mallory in that they are just surviving day-by-day and not really living. They have lost the two things that Mallory clearly has: the fight to keep going and the ability to feel emotionally what happens to them. On the other hand, their innate need to take care of a child hasn’t died, they know what a life ended too soon is, and each struggles to “fix” Mallory.

The movie itself has good, solid storytelling. Just as I thought, “oh I know what’s going to happen” the stereotypical didn’t happen. I soon found myself asking scene after scene, “Where is all this going? What is going to be the resolution?” Thankfully, the story wasn’t lending itself to a happily ever after where prince charming saves the princess and brings her to the castle. On the other hand, it didn’t seem like the equally overdone “bonding over a climatic tragedy” was going to be the route either. When the resolution came around, I found myself smiling. It wasn’t perfect. I was so happy not to have been given a cliche. In real-life not everything gets settled with all loose ends nicely tied up. Mallory and the Rileys give each other the ability to keep going, their self respect, and the desire to want to take control of their destinies rather than to just react to what happens around them.

For Twilight fans you have the story that makes you really want to know what happens. It’s a solid story that grips you emotionally. You also see the Kristen Stewart level of talent that was evidenced in Panic Room and Speak that made Catherine Hardwicke want to cast her in Twilight in the first place. It’s definitely rated R, but nothing is cheap or gratuitous.

Some, like HitFix are talking a possible Academy Award supporting actress nomination for Kristen. It’s possible. The more likely that I see is a BAFTA, because director Jake Scott is British; therefore, making the movie eligible in a number of categories. On the heels of Kristen winning last year’s BAFTA Rising Star Award this might be where this is going, especially since the Brits have more of a love for indie film than Hollywood.

Comments

  1. wow good article and im gonna go see the movie cuz one i love kristen stewart and im a twilight fan to and the twilight saga is not just fpor teen i know ppl who have the same age as me and older who are addicted to the twilight saga. i make some friend all over tjhe world with the twilight saga and it fun lol

  2. Thank you for the review. I’ve been tempted to see the movie in spite of the R rating. It helps to know that the R rating stuff isn’t cheap or gratuitous. I’ve been impressed with Kristen in the clips that have been shown and curious to see the whole movie. I might wait until DVD and get the family filter for the language.

  3. Thanks for that awesome review! I was interested in seeing the movie before, and you just made up my mind for me!

    I also like what you said about how this movie is categorized into being a certain type of movie, like twilight is. A lot of times if people would just give things a chance, they would be surprised by how much they can learn from them and like them. This is the point I still try to get across to many of my friends who won’t read twilight. They cite all the cliches and dismiss it before even giving it a chance. Guess we can’t win them all-but we can still try right? :)

  4. This review left me with No words,,,except GREAT JOB!!! I am hoping I get to see WTTR. Kristen is Wonderfully talented in whatever movie she does.

  5. I was wondering if anyone knew when this comes out in Canada. It looks amazing. I think Kristen is a wonderful actress!

    • I was actually wondering the same thing…. I dont think it is though, cause if u check out imdb.com u can look at select countries, Canada, sadly is not there :( Never know though… could be a mistake…. so dont think that its never gonna come out, cause i dont know for sure

  6. It just makes me sooo annoyed how everyone snubs Kristen and I’m pretty apathetic to all “Hollywood” and “Movie Stars”. Normally I couldn’t care less, but every time I see her in a movie she’s fantastic! I’m tired of all the synical perceptions about her…she can’t win! She’s not Bella enough for some Twilight readers, or she’s lame for doing Twilight, or she does too many Indie movies by Hollywood standards….So when she does big budget Hollywood stuff she’s a sellout? And when she does little Indie movies she goes unnoticed? So many publications say their’s “Ocsar Buzz” around this character(Mallory), but she probably will not win because she’s involved in Twilight? WT..you know what! Just because its a block buster film doesn’t mean she didn’t turn in a great performance. She was amazing in all of the Twilight films and they are obviously socially and culturely relevant or NOT so many people would watch them. Its so easy for a world,where men run it, to dismiss an actress in a movie targeted towards female audiences. I hate just because women like this movie it’s underestimated! I’ve never met a guy who didn’t watch the movies or read the books that didn’t like them…after you got them to stop gripping and whinning about having to read it in the first place. Anyway, sorry about the rant and I’m gonna wrap it up here: Kristen Stewart is an extremely intellegient actress, who has a brain and insight beyond her years, which is more than I can say for most of her Hollywood counter parts that only care about Hair mouse,Fashion designers,and which Jonas brother they can bang next. She deserves some real RECOGNITION!!!!!

    • I agree! Kristen is a real, down to earth girl who loves her job as an actress. She is a very talented young actress who doesn’t crave the attention or the spotlight as other actresses do. She is chosing to have her career her way and keep her personal life and relationships private. Thank goodness she is unlike her co-star who relishes in the spotlight with her Jonas bf, having many public displays of affection just for the media attention.

      • oops….forgot that that specific person you’re referencing is dating a Jonas brother. I just picked them because people are always talking about who they are dating next….ya know? I think I like Kristen because I can’t stand a lot of Actors/Actresses in Hollywood. They’re more concerned with Public Relations and their appearance than mastering their craft. That’s why I think someone like Kristen is a rolemodel for girls. She doesn’t care about what she looks like, or perceptions of her. She’s all about the effort she puts into each job. Those are the people that should be rewarded!

  7. I’m going to see it !

  8. I have been a fan of Kristen’s for a long time now and would love to see this movie. However, it is not playing in a theatre near me. It may be an indie movie but it should get a wider distribution. Reviews have been very good so what’s the deal with not showing the movie in theatres?

  9. Twilight9009 says:

    I want to see this movie, but I live in a very small town, so I will have to wait for the DVD. I really think Kristen’s performance in “The Runaways” is one of her best, and she didn’t get enough praise for it. She is absolutely fantastic in that film.

  10. Chernaudi says:

    I just read on the internet that the only thing that Kristen wasn’t 100% satisified with was the fact that her character didn’t actually strip in the movie, mostly because she was fully prepared for it. That was a double edged sword–she was somewhat relieved that she didn’t have to, but slightly disapointed too because she prepared for such scenes.

    Good thing, because it would probably have taken away from the story. Besides, Kristen herself probably said it best last year, that a lot of people probably would’ve gone to the movie to “see Bella get naked.”

    From what I’ve read, most people are happy with the film overall, though there are some indifferent reviews about the writing. However, this is a character driven movie and isn’t supposed to be pretty, it’s supposted to be dark and realist, and Kristen seems to excell at those roles.

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