“I got lost in this movie. It drew me into the people completely. A young woman who’s survival is dependent on showing and using her body, hiding her pain with chaos.”
Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
Average is a numb kind of word, but that does describe my feeling for covers that go with this style. I would not have it as a poster, that’s for sure. There is so much more to this movie than these cropped images of the cast. The menu is just an image with navigation, subtle but appropriate.
- Creating The Rileys – I will give a little tiny teeny bit of credit to the substance of this very brief extra. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the story came to be, interviews with the director, writer, and cast, which all seems really good. It’s just not enough. It’s worth watching to put your hand up to the screen and cover Jake Scott’s face from his nose down and say, “Damn he’s got his father’s eyes!” Not that I did that, but I’m just saying, you could if you wanted to.
The Movie: 9/10
I got lost in this movie. It drew me into the people completely. A young woman who’s survival is dependent on showing and using her body, hiding her pain with chaos. A middle age man who thinks his survival has been about routine and security, numbness, hiding his feelings in business and monatony. A middle aged woman who’s survival is dependent on staying away from the world, hiding all of herself to heal her pain. These are only observations I have made after thinking about this movie over and over and over. It’s all more subtle, real, cutting as you watch them all make decisions and have reactions to change.
The drama comes not just from the circumstance, but the performances are absolutely amazing. I can only say that young Kristen has a few moments of “actorly” intensity. I can’t fault her for that though, she has other moments of absolute brilliant telling of this character’s story. There are glimpses of true understanding of what she (the character) is going through. The same goes for Gandolfini and Melissa Leo. There is not a hitch in any scene with the dialogue, the reactions, the physical behaviors of them all. In fact, the silence is often the most powerful portrayal of what they are feeling or need to say to each other and to themselves.
What I take away from this story the most is that it’s so gut wrenching when you have people in your life for whom you care a great deal and they make choices that you know are painful, damaging, destructive and you can’t do anything about it. When do we let go? When do we hang on for dear life? I am sure that everyone has a loved one who haunts their thoughts. This story, and the telling of it in such talented hands, reminds me of all the times when I have worried about someone and it taken on their troubles but realizing in the end that I cannot make those decisions for them. I can’t solve their problems, and they can’t solve mine. I think in Jake Scott’s hands this movie cuts through a certain amount of sentimentality about how we all try to control each other, thinking we know best, and says we sometimes have to just take care of ourselves first and then hope for the best for everyone else.
As I think back on it the whole thing really does resonate with life, the hard and dirty side of things. How do we truly cope with overwhelming pain from loss? How do we learn to be in relationships when we are abandoned. It’s not something you can wrap up in one story, that’s for sure, or even in a whole lifetime. What comes to mind, if I’m brutally honest, are the the words of Buckaroo Banzai, “Where ever you go, there you are.”
Audio & Video: 7/10
Welcome To The Rileys is a mixed bag on Blu-Ray. On one hand the 1080P VC1 transfer looks great. On the other, some of the dark scenes fail to render shadow detail. On the good side though, when the image is bright there is a lot of detail (check out the bruises and acne on Kristen Stewart’s face on a lot of her close ups). Director Jake Scott films New Orleans in a brownish warm looking hue that really looks a lot different to the scenes at the start of the movie when the Rileys are at home.
The 5.1 soundtrack is distinctly “talky” just like most dramas. The dialog is crisp and clear and never distorts, not even with the booming music of the strip club playing in the background. The rear speakers and LFE channels are hardly used though. It’s very strange but not once did I notice them come alive. My sub woofer actually went into sleep mode at one point as the receiver thought it was off. I loved this movie and recommend it to all. I think it would be just as enjoyable on DVD though as the Blu-Ray is slightly lacking.
Value is a hard one to judge these days. I am not a big buyer of movies on disc. My husband is and he would say to BUY IT, because it’s such an awesome movie. I’m not that bold with the spending of the dollars. There are a few classics, things I will watch multiple times in my life, but other than that I’m a HUGE fan of Netflix, or other online rental/watching services. So, to buy this movie on Blu-Ray for over twenty bucks, no I’m not feelin’ it. To rent it online for $4 or $5, sure that’s totally worth it. To wait for a few months to see it on Netflix…..oh yes, and watch it many times 🙂
Overall Score 9/10