Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Welcome to Me’ (2015)

Alchemy

Alchemy

Welcome to Me is a fairytale for grown-ups. Its message? The way to address life’s limitations is often through embracing further limitations. Primed to learn this lesson – the hard way – is the film’s deluded heroine Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig).

Alice, a 30-something denizen of Palm Desert, California, who suffers from borderline personality disorder, has memorized all the inspirational bits from the Oprah reruns she plays in the middle of the night. Believing that people can be whatever they declare ourselves to be, Alice has gone off her medication, which happens to be the the one and only restriction in her messy life capable of controlling her primary mental limitation. Alice’s therapist (Tim Robbins) is powerless to help convince her to resume taking them, especially after she wins $86 million in a state lottery scratch-off game. And suddenly, her life’s limitations seem to lift.

Buoyed by her loyal and generous best friend Gina (Linda Cardellini), Alice – still uncomfortable in her own skin – abandons her apartment for a suite in a casino, suggesting the addictive nature of her aspirations. In a final will-to-thrive drive, she plunks down a sizable amount of her winnings to host a talk show called “Welcome to Me.” The production company she enlists to mount her program is so financially down on its luck that its owners and staffers (Wes Bentley, James Marsden, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh) have no choice but to accept Alice’s infusion of cash and her extraordinarily bad idea. How bad? The cringe-worthy program bears witness to Alice’s recreations of her past emotional traumas, as she performs live veterinary procedures and cooks healthy recipes, such as meatloaf cake covered with sweet potato icing. Over-the-top swan boats are also involved.

Directed by Shira Piven, the movie strongly evokes the Grimm Brothers’ tale of the fisherman and his wife, in which the good-hearted man tosses back a talking flounder which has begged for its life. The wife – annoyed that hubby didn’t wish for anything – pushes him to make a series of escalating demands. Such lack of measured behavior did not go well for the fish wife and it can only lead to more heartbreak – or is redemption a possibility? – for Alice.

The opening and closing moments of Welcome to Me use light and darkness, sleep and sentience, to illustrate the natural boundaries which provide order in our lives. The confinement which is often a byproduct of abiding by Saturnine rules contrasts with Jupiterian overreaching, as well as Neptunian blurry vision resulting from having too many options. Alice’s jumble of issues is well rendered: unlike a scratch-off game, answers here don’t come easy.

Archetype: Escapist. Outcast. Impracticality. Misguided Optimism. Expansiveness. Boundaries.

Astrology Archetype: ♃ ♄ ♆ (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune)

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