The Moya View

To Leslie: An Honest and Worthy Oscar Performance of One Person’s Sobriety Journey

Courtesy of Momentum Pictures

Plot via IMDB:

Having squandered every single dime of her lottery winnings on liquor and drugs, defeated West Texas single mother Leslie Rowlands finds her way back home six years after the life-altering event. But now the money is gone, the already few friends are lost, and her long-suffering family has moved on with their lives. And as the incorrigible, long-term heavy drinker teeters on the brink of total disaster, faced with living on the streets, Leslie tries to reconnect with James, her estranged 20-year-old son. However, with mistakes piling up and alcohol dependence getting in the way of a fresh start, the only person who can save Leslie is herself. The question is, can the washed-up alcoholic earn one last chance at righting the wrongs of the past and getting her life back on track?

What happens when you win the lottery and drink it all way- home, family, friends? In gritty detail, To Leslie shows all that.

It has an out of the blue, but still worthy, Oscar nominated performance from the British actress, Andrea Riseborough. The publicity campaign for the film generated some minor controversy when it skirted some widely ignored Academy rules regarding ad placements and soliciting voters.

Courtesy of Momentum Pictures

Leslie is an alcoholic mother who has worn out her welcome with friends and family and is currently living on the streets.   She is heading to the bottom and on her last of second chances. 

Allison Janney, Marc Maron, Owen Teague and Andre Royo fill out the solid ensemble cast in this small-budget indie. It’s less than $1 million budget makes To Leslie a labor of love for all those involved. They give honest and well observed performances. Together, they create a complex mosaic of how trauma and addiction hurts everyone and everything it comes in contact with. It shows why alcoholism classified as a disease and not a psychological syndrome.

Courtesy of Momentum Pictures

The director, Michael Morris slowly whittles away at false audience assumptions about who Leslie is. She is unbearably and compulsively flawed. She’s a woman stumbling through good intentions but unable to fully process and control the sadness and worthlessness that consumes her. The script by Ryan Binaco is a tight well observed story that is constantly generating surprises from simple acts of human kindness. Leslie will stumble towards connection and sobriety honestly.

The cinematography by Larkin Seiple is a real feat of visual character development. His camera movement is both protective of Leslie and unflinching in its raw portrayal of her vulnerability. Some of the most affecting shots take place at the bar. One close-up where Leslie spars with the guy who wants to bed her is shot with a depth of field that keeps Leslie’s face in focus, while the rest of the frame is blurred.

Courtesy of Momentum Pictures

The final act is a heart warming triumph of Leslie’s journey settling into something believable and true.

To Leslie gets a 3.5 o of 5 or a B+.


Directed by Michael Morris

Written byRyan BinacoProduced by

  • Claude Dal Farra
  • Brian Keady
  • Kelsey Law
  • Philip Waley
  • Jason Shuman
  • Eduardo Cisneros


Cinematography Larkin Seiple

Edited byChris McCaleb

Music byLinda Perry


  • BlueWater Lane Productions
  • Jason Shuman Productions
  • Eduardo Cisneros Productions
  • BCDF Pictures
  • Clair de Lune Entertainment
  • Baral Waley Productions

Distributed byMomentum Pictures

Release dates

  • March 12, 2022(SXSW)
  • October 7, 2022(United States)

Running time119 minutes

[1]CountryUnited States


Budget<$ 1 million[2]

Courtesy of Momentum Pictures





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