Parents whose children have died cope with their losses in many different ways. Doug Riley hires a teenage prostitute.
For the record, the prostitute (Kristen Stewart) is mostly a stripper and Doug (James Gandolfini) doesn’t want to have sex with her.
Let’s dispel the ick-factor right away: James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart do not do the nasty. At least not with each other.
Welcome to the Rileys isn’t easy to watch, but it’s not as shocking as some people have made it out to be. Kristen Stewart is surprisingly believable as a fiercely independent, socially awkward youngster using her adolescent private parts to make her way in the world.
But the movie avoids any graphic depiction of sexual violence or predation—it’s teenage-hooker lite. I try not read too much into genetics, but the fact that Ridley Scott's son was able to create a movie of such subtle beauty really surprised me. Jake Sco tt has made a movie that is unaffected and elegant and pretty much avoids being morose.
Which, given the subject matter, is probably this movie’s greatest triumph.
The melancholy romp begins in Indianapolis, a connotation-less city, where Doug lives with his wife, Lois (Melissa Leo), an agoraphobe who has not left home since their daughter’s tragic death some years prior.
At first, Doug finds solace in the arms of Vivian (Eisa Davis), a Waffle House waitress. But days before Doug is set to visit New Orleans (a city full of connotations) on business, Vivian dies, reigniting his grief.
He meets young Mallory (Stewart) in a Nawlins strip club and decides to become her protector. He pays her to allow him to live in her ramshackle home, make repairs and act out his fathering instincts on her. Though he objects to her foul mouth and the way she wanders around with her “vagina hanging out,” he doesn’t try to keep her from stripping.
He isn’t a fan of the trick-turning, however.
Meanwhile, Lois has finally mustered the courage to leave her home and tentatively drive 800 miles to retrieve her AWOL husband.
Just when the trio begin to resemble a family, Mallory remembers that she’s an underage stripper, not a stand-in for a dead girl.