Like the previous title I previewed
, LAFF's Opening Night Film The Kids Are All Right
, I also attended the World Premiere of Welcome to the Rileys
at the Sundance Film Festival in January and selected it as one of my Top 5 Picks
as well. One of the many high-profile films on the schedule, Jake Scott's Welcome to the Rileys
features the world's hottest young star, Kristen Stewart. Son of Ridley and nephew of Tony Scott (both producers on the movie), Jake Scott directs an all-star cast including James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and the ubiquitous Ms. Stewart.
One would be hard pressed to be unaware of this talented teenager given her presence in the record-shattering Twilight
and The Twilight Saga: New Moon
, which together have made over $1.118 billion in worldwide box office. Welcome to the Rileys
would most certainly have generated buzz regardless but, as director Scott told me after the Q&A at Sundance, the filmmakers certainly don't mind the added attention from her international notoriety.
At first glance Ken Hixon's screenplay says Pretty Woman
meets My Fair Lady
, with businessman Doug Riley (James Gandolfini) on a mission to tame wild stripper Mallory (Kristen Stewart) while Doug's wife Lois (Melissa Leo) waits at home. The story takes us in a more unexpected direction, however, and its originality begins to emerge. Welcome to the Rileys
isn't about redemption per se, but the way that we are inexplicably changed by the strangers who serendipitously enter our lives.
Few actors play the tortured wife and mother as well as Melissa Leo. As the agoraphobic Lois Riley, her quiet desperation is palpable. Leo's face reflects painful tragedy one moment and shines with the glow of a new mother the next. Gandolfini combines the strength of an experienced road warrior with the innocence of a young man taking his first girl to the prom. His presence dominates this film and his sensitive performance is breathtaking. Stewart takes risks which would be daunting to actors twice her age. Brash and offensive, her Mallory is like a wild tigress in heat that's escaped from the zoo and evades capture at every turn. This could be her most shocking and memorable performance yet. See my full review
and my pictures of Stewart
As I announced here
in early February, the movie was acquired by Apparition for a tentative fall release. There is some question about the future of the company with its co-founder leaving last month but it is hoped this will not affect the release of the film.
Welcome to the Rileys
is featured in the Summer Showcase section. There will be two screenings:
Friday, June 25th
Sunday, June 27th
Tickets are sold out but may become available to Rush Line patrons.
Director Jake Scott is expected to attend along with stars Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo. They will walk the red carpet at the Friday, June 25th screening.
Opening Night of the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival is just six days away and I'm becoming more excited by the hour as I peruse the fantastic lineup. Here's another in a series of promising selections.