Trial and error go in many patterns for many people. For those who hit uncharted territory due to poor judgment and relapse problems, To Leslie is a drama that speaks to the heart of those who find themselves in a blur with life. To Leslie is one of those films that carries its emotions deeply with building up many distressing situations. There is a generous amount of lying of mental health in many fragments of the film. Director Michael Morris is one that is the right fit to direct this dark drama. With his credits of directing a few episodes of the Netflix shows ranging from 13 Reasons Why (which ran from 2017 to 2020), and a few episodes of House of Cards (which ran from 2013-2018), Morris knows reverse psychology in behaviors. For To Leslie to be his first full-length feature, it is one where he keeps it faithful in and of its realism for the emotions to sink with his audience.
The small-town setting of West Texas raises tons of questions for the many failures of a single mother. That is because in a town where much is cost-effective, much could have been reconciled earlier on. To Leslie has its environment surrounded of hard ground territory, and the levels of frustrations the film continues to have remains neutral. What I mean by neutral is that there are no changes in the beginning for Leslie. Leslie is the single mother with the problems, and she is played by Andrea Riesborough. Riesborough’s performance is the faithful representation of what it looks like to broke and suffer from relapse.
This the story of To Leslie. Leslie is a single mother who once won tons of money in a lottery. Sadly though, she burned through it already. Her judgments with her finances have led her to a world of hatred and feeling burdened. The ones who despise her the most is Nancy (played by Allison Janney) and her son James (played by Owen Teague). Leslie has a good heart, but her mindset is deteriorated from countless days of drugs and alcohol use, and only continues to make decisions which keep making her spiral into a downfall of even more emotions. With no home, being broke, and living in an environment where everyone despises her, Leslie feels she is a ghost in the small town of West Texas. Her life slowly starts to find some light when she is given a job at a motel by a hotel manager named Sweeney (played by Marc Maron). Not only does she get a job, but she also gets free room and board. Which means shelter and a bed at the motel. With a slow start and some rejuvenation. Sweeney begins to help Leslie find what there is for her to start fresh and work the way up to regain her life. More building towards a life of dismissing the drinking and drug usage days and reconnecting with her son.
The outline of conflicts in the film creates a puzzle of errors. The outline of frustrations for Leslie’s deficiencies leads to tough love. Overall, the hypothesis of the film’s breakdown is set where it makes it appear that Leslie may never improve. The emotions of To Leslie is pragmatic. The cinematography and lighting appear to look like a film that is shot like a Vimeo production. Despite the low-quality of cinematography and lighting, that is the key to making the struggles of Leslie appear to feel realistic. It is Morris’s usage of a sad tale from a surreal mindset.
The feeling that Morris creates for his audience with To Leslie is having faith. Even though the film is set to make Leslie look like she is a failure and one that does not deserve to be treated equally, she can still do good with herself. As Sweeney helps her get back on her feet with the job and room and board he provides for her, he puts up with Leslie’s errors, he does so though, because he believes she can regain what she once lost. The patience of Maron’s performance is heartfelt and engrossing. The emotional acting of Riesborough’s performance is melancholy. The sorrowful mindsets of Maron and Riesborough is created where both start to have faith. That is Sweeney having faith in Leslie, and Leslie having faith in herself. To Leslie sees the light in many fragments, it is just out of focus as Morris continues the film to be dark with heartbreak.
Will Leslie regain her life? Will she reconcile with her son? Is To Leslie a masterpiece? I will answer the third question. It is not a masterpiece, but it is a drama that is compelling with honesty. The film is a representation of how many can struggle in today’s world. For Leslie, her struggles are endless. There is still tons of ways for her to reconcile and get her life in order. The negativity in the film though is just heartless. Three stars for To Leslie.