In Welcome to the Rileys, James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo play Doug and Lois Riley, a long-married couple from Indiana who have grown perilously apart in the years following the death of their only daughter. Then Doug takes a business trip to New Orleans and crosses paths with Mallory (Kristen Stewart), an angry teenage runaway stripper/hooker. Long story short, he moves into Mallory’s post-Katrina hovel to look after her — like she’s a replacement daughter. Then Lois, formerly agoraphobic, drives south to reclaim her husband. And she too meets Mallory. Healing happens.
Had this glumly lit movie, directed by Jake Scott (son of Ridley Scott) from a script by Ken Hixon, been based on a novel or the archives of the long-running ”Can This Marriage Be Saved?” column in Ladies’ Home Journal, the filmmakers’ attachment to arbitrary building blocks of plot might have been more forgivable. As an original indie drama, though, the overload of soapsuds (and the production’s excessive attention to on-location squalor) at times overwhelms the earnest performances of the three very good lead actors, who work hard to convey the feelings of loss and loneliness that come from lack of communication. Incidentally, Rileys has been casually dubbed ”Kristen Stewart’s stripper movie,” but the handle doesn’t stick: Stewart may wear skimpy clothes and grind once or twice from the neck down, but from the neck up she’s all hollow, bruised eyes, twisted little mouth, and classic, coltish K-Stew rebellion. C+