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To Leslie Review | SXSW2022

The troubles that lurk at the bottom of a bottle. The struggles of maintaining yourself after losing it all. The search for guidance amidst rebuilding your life. Alcoholism and addiction have been displayed on the cinematic landscape on many occasions and in different styles. Classic examples like Leaving Las Vegas, La Cienaga, Days of Wine and Roses, and Under the Volcano have demonstrated the different sides of drinking and addiction problems. Now director Michael Morris tells his version of the tale with the wonderful Andrea Riseborough in the lead role. With Riseborough’s name alone, I’m all eyes and ears, as her acting chops are too good to ignore. And with To Leslie, it shows once again that she is one of the best actresses working today, even if the film does have a few problems.

Leslie is a West Texas single mother who won the lottery a few years back. It looked like a sign from the gods. However, flashforward to present day, we see her struggling because she spent the money fast. With her charm running out and nowhere to go, Leslie tries not to crawl back into the bottle. As she tries to combat addiction, loneliness, and family troubles, we see the ups and downs of her struggles.

Though the way Morris tackles addiction feels grounded, the problems in this film come from his direction. The film is split into two somewhat different stories: the first, an intimate piece. The second is an underdog story. We miss the possible deeper conflicts and heart-wrenching conversations. Because of this, the latter part of the narrative feels less impactful and leaves you wanting to learn more about Leslie’s psyche like how she crawled that deep into addiction. It’s a little bit too long for the story it wants to tell, but at least, we get to see Riseborough delivering a good performance once again.


By Hector Gonzalez

Hector Gonzalez is a Puerto Rican chemical engineering student and film critic with a great passion for cinema, award shows, 1960s music, and the horror genre. Some of his favorite films are RAW, Eyes Without a Face, and The Green Ray.

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