Earlier this year, a new Kristen Wiig film was released that pretty much managed to slip under everyone’s radar. Welcome to Me did get a spattering of pretty good reviews, and currently holds a fairly solid 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — but its IMDb score is a measly 5.9/10, and it wasn’t until the film reached Netflix that I even heard about it. In a year full of blockbusters like Jurassic World, Age of Ultron and even Fifty Shades of Grey, it can be hard for a dark, deadpan semi-comedy to find an audience — and this one went woefully unnoticed.
Since its release on Netflix, the film is slowly building a bit more of a cult following, but this is why it deserved to make a bit more of a splash.
1. It’s a realistic portrayal of mental illness
At last, a realistic depiction of borderline personality disorder. Mental illnesses, and BPD in particular, have a bad history of being warped by the movies. Films like Fatal Attraction paint people with the disorder as terrifying psychopaths, whereas films like Girl, Interrupted (much as I adore the film) downplay it so completely that you start to suspect they think a character can only be sympathetic if they barely portray the disorder at all.
While Welcome to Me is by no means perfect (some people found certain elements of the film inaccurate, and even offensive, and these claims are not to be undermined), it still did a better job at tackling BPD than has really been seen in any movie before. Alice Klieg, the film’s protagonist, is for the most part a very realistic BPD sufferer. The scriptwriters did not use the term as a synonym for “crazy”; they did their research, and created a truly authentic character.
2. It makes you laugh at yourself
Welcome to Me is a comedy about a woman with a mental disorder, but the laughs are not on her — they’re on us. As you watch Alice navigate the corrupt and manipulative world of reality daytime TV, you soon realize that the butt of the joke is the audience watching at home.
3. It doesn’t try to “fix” the disorder
While we’re definitely not laughing at Alice, she’s not there for our sympathy either. Alice’s disorder is presented in the same way as any other character development; there are ways in which she needs to grow (learning how to be less self-involved in her friendships, for example), but her disorder is not a “problem” that needs to be (or can be) “solved.” The movie doesn’t wrap up neatly with a “cure,” but that doesn’t make it a sad ending; the disorder is allowed to be a part of her character without victimizing her.
4. Kristen Wiig gets it spot on
The film is aiming for a very complex portrayal of BPD, and only an extremely talented actress could pull it off. Luckily, Kristen Wiig does exactly this. She’s as skilled an actress as she is a comedian — so her performance is spot on. Wiig can do dark humor without being offensive; she can make us laugh without turning herself into the joke.
I highly recommend this movie, and think that it definitely deserved a bigger splash and a more dedicated following. So join the cult following, and give this movie (and Wiig’s fantastic performance) the appreciation it deserved!