Welcome To Me is an exercise in vicarious discomfort and an exploration of the social responsibilities surrounding mental illness. It’s also a perfect vehicle for Kristin Wiig’s painfully quirky on-screen persona, which gets pushed to its limits here. Not unlike its main character, though, the film suffers from an identity crisis. Unable to capture a consistent tone, its vibe switches sluggishly from indie drama to failing SNL skit and back again, ultimately causing it to fall short of its potential.
The core of this awkward dramedy is Kristen Wiig’s Alice Klieg, an extroverted and unashamed woman with borderline personality disorder who wins the lottery shortly after she chooses to go off her meds. Her new fortune and preexisting obsessions with Oprah and late night TV lead her to the natural conclusion that she should create her own talk show. She hires a less-than-ethical producer to put her on the air, and her awkwardness amplifies as it hits the airwaves. She gradually becomes a sort of postmodern icon as her eccentric, unapologetic narcissism somehow finds a cult following.
Alice’s obsession with TV is the crux of her character. Her specific illness aside, this is what defines her relationship to the world and herself. After bonding with Oprah through TV, perhaps she felt she could bond with the rest of the world if she was on the other side of the camera. It leads us through an often cringeworthy and occasionally forced series of events, but a nonetheless authentic arc for Alice. And her catharsis is ultimately arrived at as a television event in an appropriate and effective climax for the film.
The supporting cast, featuring Linda Cardellini and James Marsden, is a great ensemble. But no other character besides Alice really gets much attention, and they all end up serving as foils for Alice as her plans unfold (and unravel). Wiig’s trademark quirkiness manufactures a few hilarious sequences but falls flat in others, and the film’s uneven tone doesn’t have a strong enough emotional core or compelling enough characters to smooth it out. And unfortunately, the deliberately offbeat story sticks with standard and obvious plot points, and fails in its attempts to use Alice’s disorder as a gateway to greater significance.