To Leslie  – ★★★★ (Raindance 2022)

To Leslie  – ★★★★ (Raindance 2022)

An empathetic glance at the damage of addiction, To Leslie like its lead Andrea Riseborough, transfix you. Careful and powerful, there is so much to love about Michael Morris’ film, making it one that should not be ignored.

Leslie is a West Texas single mother struggling to provide for her son when she wins the lottery and a chance at a good life. But a few short years later, the money is gone, and Leslie is on her own, living hard and fast at the bottom of a bottle as she runs from the world of heartbreak she left behind. With her charm running out and nowhere to go, Leslie returns to a place she is not welcomed to, home. 

What else can be said about Andrea Riseborough at this point that hasn’t already been said? To Leslie is another tour-de-force performance from the actress. Though as strong as those previous performances have been from Riseborough, her career-best turn see’s her be more than a stereotypical alcohol-damaged human and something more. In her more sober moments, we see how she wants to be more than this, how she wants to correct the mistakes she has thrown at those around her. Yet, as much as she wants to do that, the pull of alcohol and pain is just too much of a temptation to return to.

Writer Ryan Binaco needs to be given a lot of credit for that as well. He has ensured that Leslie is as fully formed a character as possible. Not just a caricature of a person who has hit rock bottom and will either make it back up or keep floating in the void. No, here he makes that concerted effort to show the actual pain of addiction. There are moments Leslie gets things going again, but just around that corner is her expected failure, rinse and repeat. A horrible, yet honest cycle that is so destructive to the person and everyone around them.

As good as Riseborough is, a tremendous supporting cast helps her make an already great film outstanding. Owen Teague’s demeanour throughout To Leslie is as hopeful as they come, but his character is so certain that the other shoe will drop that he cannot hide it from those around him. Allison Janney and Stephen Root do strong work here, but a word regarding Marc Maron, who is fantastic here, in what could be his best performance in a film.

A memorable film, To Leslie is a wonderfully layered film. We have characters who are damaged but, most importantly, not broken. Whether they can heal and become their best selves is up to them; what is certain as it will have you hooked until the credits.


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