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Crazy for 'Me'

Kristen Wiig is superb and extremely strange

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READY FOR HER CLOSEUP In spite of the laughs she elicits, Kristen Wiig confronts painful realities with serious actor chops.
  • READY FOR HER CLOSEUP In spite of the laughs she elicits, Kristen Wiig confronts painful realities with serious actor chops.

In her new dramady, Welcome to Me, Kristen Wiig transcends hilarity as she over into a twilight zone between sketch comedy and performance art.

The ever-surprising Wiig plays a woman called Kleig, like the light. Alice Kleig lives in a desert town just outside Los Angeles. She is a borderline personality disorder case, who spends her time sitting alone in her studio apartment surrounded by a ceramic swan collection, watching Oprah. Despite the warnings of her shrink (Tim Robbins), she's gone off her meds in favor of a high-protein diet that she has read will calm her many moods.

After hitting it big with an $86 million lottery ticket, Alice, a longtime fan of nutrition infomercials, decides to produce her own daytime TV show. She burns up a fortune creating what an over-enthusiastic media student (Thomas Mann) later describes as "the first narrative infomercial." It's two hours of whatever she wants—blurted confessions, reenactments of difficult past experiences she hasn't been able to process, and painfully awkward silences.

Wiig is an insane smolderer. Her acting in Welcome to Me recalls Catherine O'Hara, circa 1983, as SCTV songbird Lola Heatherton, performing "You're All Just Parasites Draining Me of Love," silently whinnying from the effects of too many amphetamines.

It's better if the roots of Alice's illness are more mysterious—it's not always the One Big Trauma that disturbs brain chemicals. Wiig gets closer to the reality of such a malady than you'd get in a serious, actorly film. She suffers from the humiliation of her disease—wrath, breakdowns and a naked walk of shame. But she's also been given untroubled exhibitionism, a hypnotic sultriness and a completely unfettered libido.

'Welcome to Me' is playing at Summerfield Cinemas, 551 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa. 707.525.8909.

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