I’m always hesitant to view films that are set in New Orleans. There are really only two categories films can fall in, the first set of films generally fall into what I like to call your “ragin’ cajuns”; where everything is “N’awlins Dawlin’ and it’s amazin’ in the Big Easy!” Meaning they throw every single cultural cliche, bad accent, and type of New Orleans food at you within the first thirty minutes. They over exaggerate everything to where people who are unfamiliar with the culture, and even those familiar, become way too overwhelmed by the terrible representation of New Orleans culture. The second set of films are the ones with just simply terrible accents, these accents are SO bad they deserve their own category. I know that I personally, and many other locals, would greatly appreciate NO accent over a terrible one. If you can’t do it justice, simply don’t do it. Shockingly, Welcome to the Rileys did not fall into either category.
*Caution Spoilers Below*
A film by Jake Scott, starring James Gandolfini (as Doug Riley), Kristen Stewart (as Mallory) , and Melissa Leo (as Lois Riley); takes place on the streets of a realistic New Orleans in the midst of Mallory’s turbulent life. Through the intricate and realistic characters Ken Hixon, the writer, created Jake Scott flawlessly brings them to life in this realistic, yet surreal vision of the path of healing, recovery, and hope.
Mallory a sixteen year old runaway from the Florida panhandle finds herself a stripper in a notorious New Orleans club. When Doug saunters in and finds the strangely young girl a sense of paternal responsibility rushes over him (despite Mallory’s best efforts to deter it). After spending a few days with Mallory and learning of the harsh conditions she has been living in, Doug makes the decision to stay and attempt to help her in whatever way he can.
After learning that her husband, Doug, is not coming home Lois decides to leave her home for the first time after their daughter’s death and drive all the way to New Orleans from Indianapolis. Lois (blonde pictured above), suffers from tremendous guilt and anxiety brought on by blaming herself for daughter’s death. When Lois, Doug, and Mallory collide all of the cards are laid on the table and nothing is left to hid. Through a twist of fate Mallory becomes a muse for the Riley’s paternal passions causing drama and raw emotion surface. The drama that erupts causes a schism between Lois and Mallory. With an ambiguous ending the Riley’s return to their home in Indianapolis and Mallory moves on to something ‘better’.
Through beautiful shots, raw characters, supreme script, and a realistic setting Jake Scott is able to tell a beautiful story about a truly ugly situation.