Alice Klieg hasn’t turned off her television in 11 years. The set’s exhausted images are constantly flickering around the walls of the musty one-bedroom apartment she shares with several hundred VHS tapes, each containing a single episode of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’.
‘Welcome to Me’ is about an unusual person – but this dark comedy makes it perfectly clear that the ‘me’ of the title is no mere eccentric. On the contrary, this is that rarest of birds: a genuinely funny movie about mental illness. Kristen Wiig plays Alice, who was diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder when she was 16, and she still has more prescriptions than friends. On the upside, she’s just won $86 million in the lottery.
Frustrated when the local news cuts away when she’s collecting her oversize novelty cheque, Alice buys her own talk show on a cash-strapped infomercial channel. Going off her meds and blazing through her fortune, she creates ‘Welcome to Me’, in which she rides onto the stage in a swan boat and delivers segments that range from practical advice (‘matching colours to emotion’) to outsider art (vivid recreations of her most traumatic adolescent moments). But a smart script coupled with Wiig’s resolutely humane performance ensures that the laughter never comes at her expense.