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October 25, 2010

Welcome to the Rileys

Rileys Director Jake Scott's tale of attempted redemptions works better as an actor's showcase for Melissa Leo, James Gandolfini, and the ever watchable Kristen Stewart than it does as a complete work of cinematic dramaturgy. There's candid poetry here but it lacks the prick and hum of, say, a Jim Carroll poem. Stewart plays Mallory, an underage New Orleans hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold who tries to seduce traveling businessman Doug Riley (Gandolfini) into a lap dance. Away from his agoraphobic wife Lois (Leo), Doug does a sudden turnabout when he chooses to stay in New Orleans indefinitely to help the troubleprone Mallory get on her feet. Doug's and Lois's loss of their own teenaged daughter informs Doug's sincere motivations. Gandolfini once again proves there's nothing he can't do. Melissa Leo brings stoic braveness to her portrayal of a damaged woman finding her footing in an unfamiliar world. But it's Kristen Stewart's rebellious sensuality that fills the recesses of the melancholy narrative.

Rated R. 110 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)


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