Monday, 4 March 2013

No.174 : Welcome to the Rileys

Welcome to the Rileys at the IMDb

Next up we have a bunch of what Alan Partridge would describe as ‘problem people’. Not only do they have problems but they also have issues and need a bit of healing. If this already sounds like a hard slog you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Tony Soprano is living a dull life as a bathroom fittings supplier. He has no relationship with his wife, with their interaction down to her nagging about smoking in the garage. She is on the pills and socially withdrawn. Her nosy hairdresser asks about her daughter when she finds the child’s room but the stony silence tells us something is up.

Tony is getting his jollies with a waitress and by playing poker and frankly what is shown as an empty life seems all sorts of fun. That can’t last and when his waitress lover drops dead he realises his life is a nightmare - especially when he visits her grave to see his own tombstone already in place. ‘I ain’t dead yet’ he cries with little conviction. We learn that the couple lost their 15 years old daughter in a car crash and they haven’t started to rebuild their lives since.

Tony sets off for a convention in New Orleans and finds it hard to interact with his colleagues so heads off to the local strip joint - yes that old excuse. It’s here that he first encounters the skuzzy Kirsten Stewart who hustles him for a private dance and Champagne before sending him off with a flea in his ear when she suspects he’s a cop due to him not wanting to get jiggy with her.

Luckily they frequent the same diner and soon a fledging relationship begins to develop. We learn that Kristen is on the game and is 16 years old - not unlike Tony’s dead daughter (apart from the on the game bit).

Meanwhile back at the family home, Tony’s wife Lois is starting to come out of her shell. Tony dumping her was her wake up call and she resolves to drive to New Orleans to get him back - well if she can get the car out of the drive first at any rate. By now Tony has moved in with Kristen and tries to fix her plumbing in a totally non-metaphorical sense. He tries to teach her stuff like cleaning and not swearing so fucking much, but makes little headway with the headstrong ho.

Eventually Lois arrives and rather than get upset at her husband living with a whore in a squat she moves herself in too. Will these broken people find some hope and salvation in each other. Let’s hope so and in double quick time please!

This had ‘awards consideration’ rote large all over it but it was done in such a broad and ham-fisted manner that even a coma victim who be able to guess the blaring subtext that the couple were substituting the wayward wench as their lost daughter. Fair enough you might think, but the stretches of credibility were such that the cast must have been asking ‘really?’  when the next outrage was met with good natured rebukes and the offer of more money to make things right.

The older couple’s relationship was well observed at first but it soon spiralled into a ridiculous sequence of more and more blatant example of how damaged they were and reliant on the other when they maybe didn’t know themselves. Healing that’s what they need - and a better script.

The wife was woefully written with her venturing out only to be flummoxed by the big bad man’s car. She then crashes it twice in a scene that wasn’t so much about empowerment as it was about hiding your car keys. Tony was poor too but at least he ditched his fake accent halfway in. His motivations weren’t clear and although we were meant to applaud his patience and kindness he just came as a mark being taken for a ride by a prostitute - and not in a good way!

‘Twilight’ heroine Stewart was more ‘heroin’  here, and although her performance was no doubt lauded as ‘brave’ I wasn’t buying - takes more than some bruises and a potty mouth to convince as street trash Dear!

All in all this film had a very formulaic three acts and the bits of redemption you expected for each character were duly delivered, and in a fashion so obvious it wouldn’t be clearer if Tony wrapped them in the ribbon from his regifted suitcase.

THE Tag Line : You’re Welcome to the Riley’s

W Score : 13/23

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