TO LESLIE is an underwritten hokey film about addiction and redemption that is almost insultingly simplistic about how easy it is to quit years of heavy drinking. One can forgive its broad strokes as it's the debut feature of director Michael Morris and writer Ryan Binaco. It has come to fame for the social media campaign run by feted actors to get its star, Andrea Riseborough, an Oscar nomination. Her performance is committed and big - very big - in the films early scenes. Indeed it veers into that well-known Oscar-bait trope of getting fucked up and ugly for a nomination. But Riseborough is a good actor, and while this isn't her best performance, I'm happy she's getting some overdue notice. But let's not get carried away about the merits of this film.
Riseborough stars in the titular role as a working class single mother who wins the lottery, blows the money, and ends up drunk and homeless. In the film's opening scenes she reconnects with her now grown son (Owen Teague) and immediately betrays his trust by stealing money and getting high. He kicks her out and she heads back to a home town full of people who either mock or detest her. But she's held out a lifeline by Marc Maron and Andre Royo's motel bosses who give her a job as a maid. She cleans up and finds acceptance. The end.
There are better, more heartbreaking, and more complex depictions of addiction on screen, most notably by Andre Royo as Bubbles in TV's The Wire. Riseborough and Maron do the best they can with the script they're given. Janney is too good for the kind of schmaltz we get in the final scene. This is not a film of note. But it's great Riseborough is getting recognised.
TO LESLIE is rated R and has a running time of 119 minutes. It played by SXSW 2022 and was released last year in the USA.
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