8/10 Nominated for Best Actress from Andrea Riseborough’s phenomenal, career best performance at the recent Academy Awards, “To Leslie” is a heartbreaking but uplifting true story of a lottery winner who squanders all of her money, abandons her son and becomes an alcoholic to drown the sorrows of her poor decisions. True stories of lottery winners or even movie stars/musicians/millionaires blowing through hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars always blows my mind at how people could be so stupid and reckless but if you have substance abuse problems, it certainly makes the poor decision making more understandable, without condoning the poor behavior. Being a Marine who unfortunately may know a little bit too much about alcohol, Leslie’s (Riseborough) story admittedly did hit a nerve with me, despite her character doing things I would never do (blowing through $190,000, abandoning a child, etc.). The two biggest strengths of the film are the emotionally devastating screenplay written by Ryan Binaco (a man I’ll be keeping my eye on going forward) and Riseborough’s triumphant performance. Riseborough, along with Cate Blanchett and Ana de Armas all gave better acting performances than Best Actress winner Michelle Yeoh, who only won to check the diversity box of having the first Asian woman win Best Actress. While Yeoh was still solid, if you actually watch Riseborough’s performance here (not many people did considering the extremely limited theatrical release), you will see that it isn’t even close with who gave the better performance. Despite the two hour running time, the film is well paced with subtle direction from Michael Morris, who wisely lets the performances take center stage as opposed to over-stylized and distracting directional choices. Despite being a complete moron in real life, Marc Maron gives his best acting performance as supporting character Sweeney. The entire ensemble is terrific (props to Allison Janney and Stephen Root) but this is obviously Riseborough’s film from start to finish. More evidence of the screenplay’s strength goes to the fact that we hate Leslie when we first meet her since she is a lying, annoying, loud, abusive, degenerate alcoholic, yet by the end of the film you will fall in love with her as you root for her to overcome her substance abuse and get her life together. The fact that this story really happened makes the emotional heart of the film give you a real gut punch. The only real complaint I can offer is that similar alcohol themed films have essentially already covered this ground before so this is nothing new and doesn’t have the highest replayability but what is new that the film has to offer are stunning performances, a tight and emotional script, authenticity that is palpable and an ending that nails it. The film even has some moral messages about not giving up, dealing with shame and guilt, the importance of community and more. If you have had alcoholism impact your life or a loved one or just want to see maybe the best female performance of 2022, I strongly recommending pouring yourself a drink (uh…non alcoholic) and sitting down to watch “To Leslie”.

#RiseboroughAndShine / #ALotteryOnOnesPlate / #SweeneyBroad / #SlurredWoman / #NewAmsterdamVodka / #GetAJob2

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