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cast: Winona Ryder, Jeff Daniels, Thomas Wilson Brown, and Laila Robins
director: Jim Abrahams
91 minutes (15) 1990
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Network DVD Region 2 retail
review by James A. Stewart
Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael
There was a time when Winona Ryder was one of the darlings of the American film industry. Her roles in Beetlejuice and Heathers,
whilst just a teenager, had already set a standard that she was expected to follow. Of course, her well documented off the rails in more ways
than one behaviour has meant her more recent press time has centred more on her extra-curricular activities than her undoubted talent.
Originally made and released at a time when her star was in the ascendancy, Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael showcase Ryder's talents to
the full and remind us both of how good an actress she is, but also the fine line between critical renown and straightforward denigration.
As Chuck Palahniuk wrote, "it's press coverage."
This film revolves around the life of Dinky Bosseti (Ryder), a young girl from the seemingly insular town of Clyde, which is slap bang in
the middle of narrow-minded America. The whole town is in the thrall of Roxy Carmichael who elevated herself from Clyde's constrictive
environs to gain some national notoriety. Dinky soon develops her own theories as to Roxy's significance to her.
Dinky is a complex girl who jettisons all concepts of social norm by playing the outfit card and readily embracing not just the need and
want to be different, but also the need to stand out. This is then challenged by the desire to be loved and be normal and to interact with
others. All of which is further compounded by her adolescence, which as we all know means every drama is multiplied and every mood swing
exaggerated. Dinky's life is further complicated by the fact she is adopted.
Ryder is the real star of the show in this release and rightly so. She is sassy, smart, pretty and convincing. It's easy to forget how good
she was in light of recent events and some pretty awful career decisions. In Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael she is ably assisted by
Jeff Daniels and Thomas Wilson Brown especially. And whilst there is stereotypes a-go-go in the representation of the small town of Clyde,
director Jim Abrahams does a good job in linking the townsfolk to both Dinky and Roxy. There is a reciprocal reliance between the town and
Roxy for hope, Dinky and Roxy for truth, Roxy and the town for grounding (I think) and Dinky and the town for self-awareness.
Although the last 20 or so years hasn't been incredibly kind to Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael there is still an charming quality to
this film which makes it entirely watchable and enjoyable. The one facet of it that does divide opinion is the effectiveness of the ending,
which leaves some feeling cheated whilst others accept this as inevitable. Me? I liked it.