To Leslie Review

to leslie
to leslie
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Michael Morris’s debut feature seemed to be following the trajectory of many little-known indies that have been produced. After a festival circuit and a limited US release, To Leslie was going to be buried deep down in the algorithms of streaming services. However, this mournful story about social classes will probably become known for a grassroots Oscar campaign launched on behalf of its protagonist, Andrea Riseborough, which had an element of surprise. Practically everybody in A-list Hollywood wants her to win: Cate Blanchett gave her a huge shout out; Edward Norton posted all over Twitter about how awesome she was in the film, where she underwent the most severe physical ordeals; finally, Kate Winslet called her performance “the best portrayal by any woman I have ever seen on screen”. That is quite a compliment.

Even if one does not agree with such evaluation as made by Winslet, it still can be said that Riseborough – who has always been involved in challenging roles – produces an outstanding and layered portrayal here as an unfriendly alcoholic climbing back up from rock bottom. While crashing at people’s houses and discretely moving cans of beer around there is nothing else but anger then despair on Leslie’s face as if she were someone not able to restrain oneself but wanting it so much.

To Leslie is touching though slightly derivative of countless weeping addiction dramas that make suffering look like something dreadful. Morris and Ryan Binaco take all suffering off Leslie for selfish sympathy as she endures disgrace at a pub next door plus disgusting experience with cold turkey attack. “How would you feel if people just stared at your pain?” asks Leslie’s son when she suggests taking him to the zoo. “They do,” she says with no self-awareness.

Not attempting to give instructions or something else on these issues through its quiet contemplation about healing scars caused by drugs, To Leslie serves only as an intimate character study designed for showcasing Jennifer Hudson’s unique talent ignored for too long. And any small time indie that (possibly) gets mentioned in the same breath with blockbusters is worth rejoicing over.

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