To Leslie’s review – Andrea Riseborough is brilliant in a film’s sad country song | Movies

Jo Leslie is a sad, sweet country song from a movie, with a steel guitar accent of love and loss. Screenwriter Ryan Binaco drew inspiration from his own mother for this film, evoking her memory in the spirit of Barbara Loden’s Wanda (1970) or perhaps Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974). Better Call Saul producer Michael Morris makes his directorial debut. The film is ultimately just a little contrived and its final scene isn’t entirely believable, but the drama is still fiercely watchable thanks to an undoubtedly wonderful performance from Andrea Riseborough – who last week handed over this little-seen indie picture in conversation and made industry headlines with her sensational breakthrough in the list of Best Actress Oscar nominations.

Riseborough plays Leslie, a single mother who, five years prior, had won nearly $200,000 in the Texas state lottery, an event that changed her life for all the wrong reasons. Leslie wasted every penny on drink and drugs and now she is virtually homeless, a grotesque embarrassment to all the locals who celebrated with Leslie as she held the giant check outside her neighborhood bar for the TV cameras. She’s estranged from her parents and adult son James (Owen Teague) — whose birthday provided the lucky numbers — and she’s still fully addicted with no intention of joining NA or AA, a subject that’s never been discussed. addressed.

After an excruciating attempt to stay with James in the modest apartment he shares with a fellow construction worker, stealing their money for booze, Leslie returns home to confront the people for whom she now symbolizes the opposite of chance. It means an ugly and painful confrontation with ex-friends Nancy (Allison Janney) and Dutch (Stephen Root) who are filled with a complex rage against her and themselves: they once had to care for the son that she neglected and gave up, but they know in their hearts they were happy enough to party with Leslie in good times, allowing calamity. But she gets a cleaning job from a nice motel owner, Sweeney (Marc Maron), and her life could still be turned upside down.

Andrea Riseborough received her first Oscar nomination for her role
Andrea Riseborough received her first Oscar nomination for her role. Photography: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

Riseborough brilliantly conveys an odd, almost shapeshifting figure: someone who can look almost glamorous as she drinks in bars throughout the day, but then painfully skinny and waiflike, with giant staring eyes, as if still amazed by that punchline to the bad joke of her life, waking up to another hungover collision with reality and disappointment. More importantly, Riseborough shows that even though all the money is gone, what remains is the radioactivity of addiction and a strange residue of celebrity right: she’s now a lottery winner without the lottery winnings, a ruined queen. , exiled from her rightful rightful kingdom by fate, defiant in her sense that she is above all those people who now contemptuously believe themselves to be better than her, but probably would not have behaved differently in her position. She didn’t have the better life she was promised. But was his life different? She had already drawn the losing ticket to the lottery of life. Maybe she was always going to be like this.

You can compare To Leslie to Spend Spend Spend (1977), Jack Rosenthal’s TV play about ill-fated British football pool winner Viv Nicholson who lost it all, but that’s without the same comedy and sentimentality. Binaco and Morris find something more serious, more compassionate, and also more everyday in Leslie’s story, and she is considered eligible for redemption in the classic Hollywood sense. Like I said, the ending of this movie doesn’t quite live up to the level of gritty realism set in the rest of the drama, but what a great performance from Riseborough.


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