To Leslie
Andrea Riseborough gives a standout performance in a film deserving of its accolades.

To Leslie

Release Date: October 7, 2022
Runtime: 01:59
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.

An alcoholic woman who squandered her lottery winnings receives a second chance from a kind-hearted motel manager in . Leslie “Lee” Rowlands () is a West Texas woman who won $190,000 in the lottery but squandered the money to support her substance abuse problem. Six years later, Leslie is on the verge of homelessness, and she is rejected by her son James () after he catches her drinking. Leslie is forced to move back home, and she initially stays with her estranged friend Nancy () and her boyfriend Dutch () before quickly getting kicked out again. However, Leslie is offered a job by Sweeney (), who runs the local motel with Royal (), which gives her a chance to clean up her act.

To Leslie Synopsis

To Leslie is a drama directed by Michael Morris starring Andrea Riseborough (Birdman, Mandy, Possessor) as the titular Leslie. Six years before the film's events, alcoholic Leslie squandered her lottery winnings to support her drinking habit. The residents of the small Texas town she grew up in won't let her forget it, particularly Leslie's former friend Nancy. However, Leslie is given a second chance when the kindhearted Sweeney offers her a job as a maid at the motel he manages. However, Leslie still has many demons to put away before she can finally clean up her act.

My Thoughts on To Leslie

To be perfectly honest, To Leslie is an independent drama that probably never would have gained much attention if it wasn't for the grassroots campaign that resulted in an unexpected Best Actress Oscar nomination for Andrea Riseborough. That's not to say Riseborough doesn't deserve the nomination, as the film's plot sees her character progress from being a raging alcoholic to someone trying to improve herself.

It is the scenes of Leslie being a raging alcoholic, particularly in a scene at the end of the first act, where she has a falling out with her 19-year-old son James, which makes To Leslie a film that is not easy to watch at times. However, the film turns around with the second-half introduction of Marc Maron (GLOW, Joker, Respect) as hotel manager Sweeney, who takes a risk by offering Leslie a job and a place to stay. While it initially seems like Leslie might squander this opportunity, she soon tries to quit drinking and make a better life for herself.

Ultimately, I am glad that To Leslie never stayed under the radar. The film has a standout performance by Andrea Riseborough and is well-deserving the accolades it receives.

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Trailer for To Leslie

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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