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Welcome to the Rileys


Stars: James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo, Joe Chrest, Ally Sheedy, Tiffany Cole, Elsa David, Lance E Nichols, Peggy Walton Walker, Sharon Landry

Director: Jake Scott

Welcome to the Rileys was filmed in 2008, copyrighted 2010 and finally released in 2011 which would indicate this above-average low-budget independent movie is being loosed on cinemas now in order to cash in on the inevitable pr overkill that is accompanying Kristen Stewart and The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn: Part 1.

That said the drama has much to recommend it, not least in Stewart’s strong performance as a 16-year-old stripper and prostitute who is ‘rescued’ by errant businessman Gandolfini. Ken Hixon’s screenplay which, despite its rather obvious emotional resolution which has their burgeoning non-sexual relationship acting as catalyst to trigger off the healing of Gandolfini’s collapsing marriage to Leo – provides Stewart with a credible character which she plays to the hilt in a performance that demonstrates she can act – and well – as well as react to the sexual advances of the vampire she loves.

Gandolfini and Leo do well as the couple whose own teenage daughter’s death in an automobile accident understandably traumatizes them and succeed in ensuring their characters do not merely emerge as screenwriter’s ciphers. And Scott (son of big budget filmmaker Ridley) shows a sharp eye for character and, particularly, setting, using New Orleans locations far from the glossy neon-heavy tourist traps of, say, Justice, to frame the drama. Praise, too, for cinematographer Christopher Soos for creating suitably gritty colour to underscore the story.

Alan Frank

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Blue Dolphin. Technicolor.
110 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 20 Nov 2011