“To Leslie”


Metacritic (8/10), Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10)

Winning the lottery should be a cause for celebration. Unfortunately, sometimes that celebrating can be taken too far, as chronicled in director Michael Morris’s fact-based debut feature about a woman who won big and lost it all while circling the bottom of a bottle. Those losses included not only her winnings, but also her possessions, friends and family, as well as whatever reliability and credibility she may have had. With virtually nothing left, she’s forced into returning home to the small west Texas town where she grew up to start over and face her demons, some of which arose before her windfall. The film’s story may be a familiar one, but there are enough elements to distinguish it from other pictures about the pains of addiction and recovery to make for a compelling watch. What works best here are the performances of the superb ensemble cast, including Allison Janney, Stephen Root, Marc Maron, Andre Royo, Owen Teague, and, most notably, Andrea Riseborough, whose outstanding lead portrayal is handily the best of her career, an achievement that has deservedly earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination in this category. The film’s fittingly atmospheric soundtrack and ethereal cinematography significantly enhance the actions on screen and effectively capture the mood of the narrative underlying its fine screenplay. To be sure, the pacing could stand to be stepped up somewhat at times, and some story elements become slightly repetitive, particularly toward the end of the first hour. But, considering the picture’s many assets, it’s easy to see how this offering has been named one of the National Board of Review’s Top 10 independent films of 2022. Catch this one online, and immerse yourself in a truly moving story.