Title – To Leslie (2022)
Director – Michael Morris (feature debut)
Cast – Andrea Riseborough, Marc Maron, Andre Royo, Allison Janney, Owen Teague
Plot – Texan girl Leslie (Riseborough) once found potential salvation from a life struggling to stay afloat when she won a local lottery draw but years after the fact her life is more messy than ever with her money gone and a chance to finally find purpose in life presenting itself when kindly motel operator Sweeney (Maron) offers her a job.
“You know, some people can’t see a good thing, even when it’s dropped on their plate”
Review by Eddie on 01/03/2023
With a worldwide gross of under $30,000 in its limited theatrical run in the second half of 2022, there weren’t too many bigger surprises when this years Oscar nominations were read out when actress Andrea Riseborough found herself competing with a highly fancied field in the Best Actress category from the little film many had never heard of, To Leslie.
Inspired by true events, this Marc Maron starring and produced feature from first time director Michael Morris (making a name for himself in the TV directing landscape over the last few years) is far from noteworthy in many of its aspects but it’s hard to deny that Riseborough rises too the occasion here as the recognisable and talented performer gets her best chance yet to showcase her acting prowess in a turn that led many of Hollywood’s elite to proclaim her performance to be amongst the best they had seen in recent times, causing the Academy to investigate if all was above board with Riseborough’s nomination.
Following a familiar pattern of down on their luck no-hoper trying to turn their life around and at the same time reconnect with family they had long ago lost, To Leslie provides nothing revelatory in a narrative sense as Riseborough’s one time lottery winner turned alcoholic wanderer Leslie finds herself back in her old stomping ground without a penny to her name and only a new $7 an hour job at a lacklustre hotel to keep her afloat but throughout Morris’s depressing country song like tale with glimmers of hope Riseborough is a force to be reckoned with as a lost soul desperate to prove she has what it takes to beat her illness.
So good for the better part of a decade with parts in the likes of Oblivion, Birdman, Never Let Me Go and The Death of Stalin, Riseborough has had to wait for this moment to finally get a chance to hog the spotlight and its not hard to see why her peers have got around her in a big way here with the actress stripped of anything that could considered a luxury as she strips herself right back to bring Leslie to life in what is a transformative inhabiting of a character that makes sure the actress has morphed into her role here.
With some amiable supporting turns from the likes of Maron, Owen Teague as Leslie’s estranged son James and The Wire legend Andre Royo as fellow hotel worker Royal, not much else within To Leslie is worth writing home about and there aren’t many narrative surprises that take our breath away throughout the films two hour runtime but for Riseborough alone, To Leslie is worth seeking out.
Final Say –
Not an outstanding film judge overall, To Leslie does harbour a memorable and committed central performance from Andrea Riseborough who gives the performance of a lifetime as a down on her luck struggler looking to give life one final shot at success.
3 pink suitcases out of 5
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