Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Jake Scott is no stranger to movies. The son of famous director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) and the nephew of Tony Scott (Top Gun, Déjà Vu), Jake grew up all around the process and is at Sundance with his first feature, Welcome to the Rileys.

And it’s a solid debut, too (he probably ignored all the weird advice uncle Tony must have tried to give him). James Gandolfini and Mellisa Leo’s daughter was killed in a car crash 8 years ago, and they’ve never been able to recover. They remain married, but life is anything but happy. Gandolfini goes on a business trip to New Orleans and meets a teenage stripper/runaway/prostitute (Kristen Stewart) and takes her under his wing.

Sounds cliché, sure, but Scott and the cast pull it off remarkably well. Gandolfini continues to prove that he’s one of the finest actors working today (and makes me miss Tony Soprano more than ever), Melissa Leo is her usual great self, and Kristen Stewart is surprisingly good. It’s hard to agree that her performance here is akin to watching a young Leonardo DiCaprio or Sean Penn as some have said, but at least she seems to have convinced everyone (well, me at least) that Twilight is strictly a paycheck job that she mails in.

The film is not without faults, but the performances keep it from sliding off the rails and Scott keeps those performances in line. In the hands of a lesser director, those same roles could have gone unchecked, slipping into an overdramatic mess. Luckily, Scott has a good head on his shoulders—and another one watching over, just in case.


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