The 58th SF Intl Film Festival: Day 12 – Shira Piven’s “Welcome to Me”

Welcome_to_Me_01I only saw one movie the other night, the Kristen Wiig clunky comedically driven vehicle, Welcome to Me. For a film festival showcasing a lot of non-mainstream “big names”, names mostly known in cinephile and festival junkie circles, this was easily one of the most accessible picks of the litter, especially for anyone wanting to see some well known American actors on screen. Unfortunately, and it pains me to write this, it was also my least favorite film of the festival. I have a prepared statement explaining why.

I so really wanted to like this movie, which in itself is kind of strange, because other than the fact that SNL funnygirl Wiig was in it I knew almost nothing going in. Truth be told, my only motivation for seeing this was that I like Wiig as a comedic actor and due to my acute awareness of festival fatigue creeping in (increased yawns, taping to music from logo reel while at the urinal, a general heightened sense of deja vu, etc.), I just wanted to see something low-key and funny. What I got was a tonally uneven cruel and insensitive charactercher study of what a person living with bipolar is apparently supposed to look like.

It didn’t take long for this “comedy” to go from haha to huh. Sadly, director Shira Piven can’t make up her mind on whether she wants her audience to laugh at, or laugh with Wiig’s portrayal of Alice, a woman who stopped taking her meds and has just spent a large chunk of her multi-million lottery winnings on producing a show all about her in where both her audience and the show’s producers are conflicted on whether they should be laughing or not. For the record, I don’t believe this meta element is intended, if so, jokes on me. Anyway, It’s because of this unevenness in tone that every other aspect suffers, including its would be apt critique on our narcissistic culture, and its should-have-been more funny comedic elements.

two-stars1

Remaining Showtimes for Welcome to Me:
Wednesday, May 6th, 3:45pm (Sundance Kabuki Cinemas)

Oh well, even though the movie was kind of a dud, running into Hajooj Kuka (director of the excellent documentary Beats of the Antonov) was not. After praising the man for making such a great film I then challenged him to a quick game of paper, rock, scissors. He beat me in a best out of 5 match, 3 to 2. I’ll get you next time, Hajooj (pictured below)!

Kuka_byPamelaGentile_004

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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival

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