Welcome to Me is a comedy drama based on the real life story of Alice Klieg, a sufferer of Borderline Personality Disorder who wins 86 million dollars on the lottery and finances her own autobiographical talk show.
The film has been well received, screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, has been nominated for an award for Best Actress (Kristen Wiig) at the Gotham Independent Film Awards and won a place in the Top Ten Independent Films with the National Board of Review.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental condition which presents the symptoms of fear of abandonment, feelings of intense emotions, paranoia, suicidal tendencies and behaviour that is impulsive and dangerous for the sufferer. Due to these symptoms people with BPD struggle to maintain relationships.
Welcome to Me was written by Eliot Laurence, who previously wrote the successful comedy show, The Big Gay Sketch Show which aired from 2006 to 2010. His script gives the film a light-hearted tone, and portrays the character of Alice (Kristen Wiig) as unusual and eccentric.
She will say whatever is on her mind, often blurting out some hilariously obscene statement such as “I’ve been using masturbation as a sedative since 1991”. Wiig gives an excellent performance and an accurate portrayal of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. She is a very likeable character
with flaws that only make her the more endearing to audiences.
Mental illness and personality disorder are often represented negatively in film. Mainstream Hollywood blockbusters frequently vilify characters with a personality disorder. Films like Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987), The Talented Mr Ripley (Anthony Minghella, 1999), Cruel Intentions (Roger Kumble, 1999) and American Psycho (Marry Harron, 2000) portray personality disorder as irrational, hysterical and dangerous.
In contrast, Piven’s Welcome to Me, in line with other independent films, represents its character’s condition more accurately and in a more sympathetic light. One of the most realistic portrayals of Borderline Personality Disorder in cinema is Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen (2003), which, similarly to Welcome to Me, is based on real events.
What is significant about the Welcome to Me is that there is a serious undertone that addresses the issues associated with mental illness. The narration follows Alice and her experiences closely, creating a connection with the audience. The film not only highlights the difficulties Alice, as a sufferer of BPD experiences, but also how it affects the people around her and her relationships, which is an issue people with BPD are frequently faced with.
Mental illnesses and personality disorders are incredibly complex according to each individual case. The film criticises the categorisation and diagnoses of mental illnesses which positions cases under a vague term, neglecting any grey areas.
Welcome to Me’s portrayal provides a fair representation in an entertaining format, which is more accessible to audiences and therefore may better help raise awareness on Borderline Personality Disorder and the difficulties sufferers face. However, the film’s tone is not as heavy as its predecessor’s, Thirteen and doesn’t delve into the character’s history or the origin of her disorder, which unfortunately, might mean that the film’s message may not be taken seriously. However, Welcome to Me is a considerably important landmark in the history of cinema for its accurate portrayal
of mental illness.
Welcome to Me (Trailer)
“Welcome to Me” is out in cinemas and exclusively on Sky Store on March 25.