This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jonathan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
“Hey. It’s amazing. It’s really amazing.”
How did To Leslie seemingly fly under the radar for so long? Why has Andrea Riseborough not been in the Oscar conversation prior to the last few weeks? Why has no one seen this damn movie? To Leslie is a pensive and thematically depressive film that is anchored by its career defining performance from Riseborough. To Leslie, while at times difficult to watch, is a moving and emotionally gutting story that managed to leave me feeling disgusted in one moment and moved to tears in the next. To Leslie, while not wholly original, separates itself from others in the genre with its unflinching honesty, masterful direction, and best in class performances. To Leslie is a must watch and has firmly solidified itself as one of the better films to release in 2022.
Truthfully, To Leslie as a film is *good* on its own. But Andrea Riseborough elevates it to greatness, “Hey, she’s amazing. She’s really amazing.”
To Leslie, being Michel Morris’s feature debut, is an impressive freshman outing touting both mature, almost veteran-like direction, and a fairly sharp eye for cinematography. The cinematography at times feels almost voyeuristic as we are thrusted into a sordid and tragic downward spiral of alcoholism and mental illness. The color schemes here are bright and idyllic, almost giving off a countryside ambience highlighting the “hometown” we all know in some capacity, lending a sense of relatability and ownership to the story. To Leslie, while not on the same cinematography level as many of the other Oscar contenders this year, is still a serviceable and visually compelling film that will leave a semi-lasting impression on me and most assuredly have me looking for Michel Morris’s next feature.
The lady of the hour, Andrea Riseborough. My goodness. To be honest I thought this celebrity backed grassroots campaign for Andrea Riseborough was overblown and unmerited. How could this alleged “once in a generation” performance have gone this unnoticed for so long? I was skeptical. I’m not now. Andrea Riseborough put forth a harrowing and heart wrenching performance that is one of the more emotionally devastating I’ve seen in years. Riseborough effortlessly conveys bursts of rage, mania, remorse, sorrow, joy, and redemption, delivering one of the more complete and powerful performances this year. Riseborough deserves the seat at the Oscars table this year, and if it wasn’t for Cate Blanchett I’m not sure Riseborough would have much competition. I hope she gets the credit, she’s earned it here. Allison Janney makes the most of her limited screen time, giving us her typical and strong performance. I wish we had more from Janney and Riseborough together, there was a lot to unpack there that would have been explosive to explore. Lastly, Marc Maron was the unsung hero of this film giving one of the more nuanced and heartfelt performances. You couldn’t help but love Sweeney, possibly my favorite character from the film.
To Leslie is a cautionary and contemplative tale that is uncomfortable and maddening at times as we are subjected to a morally bankrupt and defeated Andrea Riseborough as she journeys to overcome addiction and suffering. To Leslie, despite its heavy subject matter is a beautiful film that never wavers and weaves together its story and cast seamlessly leading to one of the most impactful and tear soaked endings of the year. To Leslie is a must watch, especially as the Oscars are just around the corner. I truly hope To Leslie can make a splash.
What is Andre Royo doing here? I mean, I loved it, but what a weird character.
Tom Virtue? Blink and you miss him, but I’m glad ole Daddy Stevens (Even Stevens) is still finding work.