TO LESLIE (2023)
Release Date: 10/14/23 [Cinemas / VOD]
Studio: Momentum Pictures
"Inspired by true events. A West Texas single mother wins the lottery and squanders it just as fast, leaving behind a world of heartbreak. Years later, with her charm running out and nowhere to go, she fights to rebuild her life and find redemption."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
It’s been a minute since an Oscar nomination has garnered as much controversy as Andrea Riseborough’s for To Leslie – but even the most critical viewer must admit that, politics aside, the actress’s nuanced performance is worth the hype. Riseborough’s career has spanned decades and she’s worked with some of the most celebrated actors of our time, so it’s interesting how under-the-radar she’s flown with casual movie watchers. Hopefully, this awards season will change that.
In To Leslie, Riseborough plays the titular character. She’s a single mother and one-time lottery winner who drank her money away, constantly fails to find steady work, and is overall just a sad state to behold. One night, Leslie lucks out big time when she meets motel owner Sweeney (Marc Maron) who takes pity on her and offers her a gig cleaning rooms. It’s not much, but it’s a lifeline she desperately needs. And Leslie doesn’t know it – but it's an act of kindness that is about to change the trajectory of her life. Her road to redemption is a rocky one, and it is sobering (no pun intended) to watch it unfold over the film’s two-hour runtime.
Riseborough tackles themes of alcoholism and strained familial relationships flawlessly, taking a painfully accurate approach at portraying a woman at the end of her rope. Leslie has got to be one of 2022’s saddest heroines to grace the big screen, but a somewhat feel-good ending saves the film from being a complete downer. That doesn’t mean you won’t still shed a few tears, though.
Riseborough herself is an absolute chameleon, and while watching I could hardly believe this was the same woman who played Tom Cruise’s sensuous love interest in 2013’s Oblivion. She, as the kids say, really understood the assignment with this one – and looking at her frail form and tired, hopeless eyes stirs feelings of sympathy for a character who hasn’t necessarily earned it. Riseborough fully embodies her character in To Leslie – and it’s a film and performance that should absolutely be celebrated.