With the 2010 Sundance Film Festival set to open its doors tomorrow night, we've come to the end of our all-too-brief Sundance Primer series. I truly hope that you've learned a little more about some of the films premiering this year, and that you'll continue to keep an eye out for them in the weeks and months to come.
Today we're bringing the series to a close with a closer look at Welcome to the Rileys, which marks director Jake Scott's Sundance Film Festival debut and includes one of the more talked-about performances of the entire fest. Yes, this is that "Kristen Stewart stripper flick", but with a cast that also includes James Gandolfini and the excellent Melissa Leo, Rileys looks to bring a lot more to the table than some may expect. Scott, who's enjoyed a successful career helming music videos for everyone from Radiohead to The Smashing Pumpkins, will attempt to inject his unique style into a story about a grieving businessman who finds a lot more than he bargained for in a local stripper from New Orleans.
Cinematical briefyly caught up with Scott to find out a little more about his film before it premieres in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section at this year's festival.
Cinematical: Give us the "dude on the street" description of your film.
Jake Scott: It's about a businessman who comes to terms with the death of his daughter through an unlikely relationship with a teenage stripper.
Cinematical: What did you connect with most with regards to this particular story and set of characters?
Jake Scott: I really connected with Doug Riley as a character. He's someone trying to do the right thing but is adrift, alone in his grief. I made it as a Father with my own children in mind.
Cinematical: Give us your one film festival rule
Jake Scott: Don't drink too much.
More on Jake Scott: Check out his music video for Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" ...
Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees
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And here's the official Sundance synopsis for Welcome to the Rileys ...
Trauma transforms us. Years after their teenage daughter's death, Lois and Doug Riley, an upstanding Indiana couple, are frozen by estranging grief. She isolates herself in their immaculate suburban home. He philanders with a local waitress, anesthetizing pain with easy passion. When he loses his mistress to cancer, Doug, beset by further heartache, escapes to New Orleans on a business trip. Compelled by urgencies he doesn't understand, he insinuates himself into the life of an underage hooker, becoming her platonic guardian. Meanwhile, Lois summons all of her remaining force to overcome agoraphobia and venture south to reclaim her marriage.
Exacting performances from three consummate actors (James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart) infuse this emotionally raw, gently humorous drama with penetrating humanity. Director Jake Scott's uncompromising film refuses to flinch from difficult moments or tie neat bows around its characters. Instead, it reveals how taking risks and leaving our comfort zone can become a profound path to healing the human heart.
For more on Welcome to the Rileys, including screening times and ticket availability, head over to its page on the Sundance website.