- Gareth Crook
To Leslie (2022) - 7/10
I know absolutely nothing about this film. Other than the performance from Andrea Riseborough got a lot of attention for gatecrashing the Oscar’s nominations. She plays Leslie. A firebrand Texan who wins $190k, but who we meet being kicked out of a cheap apartment, penniless. The money gone and bridges apparently torched to the ground. This is a gritty and true story of hopeful redemption. James (Owen Teague), her son hasn’t given up hope and barely 10 minutes in, I’m fully onboard and praying that she doesn’t screw this up. He’s a good kid. I say kid, he’s grown up and capable. More capable than Leslie, who’s an alcoholic train wreck, who quickly dashes my hopes. It’s hard to watch. Riseborough really is quite brilliant. Vile as Leslie but brilliant. You want to root for Leslie. Want her to find her feet. Gain the control she needs, but she doesn’t make it easy and neither do those around her. Texas looks a lonely place, especially through her eyes. Dry heat and dust. Blue collar brutalism. Everyone just keeping moving slowly onward. You can appreciate the drudgery and Leslie’s desire to “Just have some fun”. Kicked out by James, she bounces around. Still drinking, incapable of looking after herself. There’s plenty of bar scenes. Neon Miller signs on the walls as awful country music twangs in the background. It’s like a slow motion car crash. Someone has got to find the brakes. Could that be Sweeney (Marc Maron), a nice guy charitable type who steps in with a job and roof. He’s not daft though, he sees what she’s up to, but he’s patient. I like Maron a lot. I’m sure he’d admit he’s not the best actor, but he’s honest, homely. Maybe it helps that Maron understands what Leslie is about to go through. Riseborough is hauntingly good and together they grab this story by the horns. Almost quite literally, as things get a bit redneck at the town fair. Who doesn’t love a bit of line dancing in the sun though. It’s powerful stuff. It looks remarkably good too, despite the bleakness. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s not a typical redemption tale. I’ve no idea how close to the true story it is, but it feels honest. There’s no fluff, no needless sentiment. I’ve no idea if Riseborough will win the Oscar, but she deserves to as much as anyone. That said, the Oscar’s are pointless anyway, but I’m thankful in this case that their existence brought me To Leslie.