To Leslie (2022)Ever wonder what happens to those poor souls who win the lottery and end up destitute? Filmmaker Michael Morris depicts one particularly gut wrenching version of that scenario in To Leslie, a film which features a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for Andrea Riseborough and is new to streaming on Netflix. But consider yourself warned: though it is thoroughly fulfilling, the journey isn’t pretty.

"a wonderfully-rendered piece of filmmaking. Very nearly perfect, in fact."

Working from a script by Ryan Binaco (who pulls inspiration from his own mother’s life), Morris, in his debut feature film, introduces us to the uniquely deplorable Leslie (Riseborough, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), who cashes in a $190k lottery ticket in a small west Texas town. Good for her, right?

Not so fast.

Via flashbacks and flash forwards, we learn of Leslie’s alcohol-fueled lack of self control as she burns through her friends and loved ones faster than she does her winnings. Broke, and destitute, she calls her way down a tattered list of phone numbers she keeps stowed away inside a pink Samsonite. Her 19-year-old son, James (Owen Teague), her jaded friend Nancy (Allison Janney) and Nancy’s displeased husband Dutch (Stephen Root, Office Space) have had enough and refuse to put up with Leslie’s feral ways any longer.

The fortuitous meeting of a friendly motel manager named Sweeny (Marc Maron, Almost Famous) provides what may be the touch of good luck Leslie needs to turn her life around.

To Leslie is a wonderfully-rendered piece of filmmaking. Very nearly perfect, in fact. The heartfelt and soul-stirring story takes us on an extraordinary journey of love, loss, and the pursuit of self-discovery. With its exquisite storytelling, exceptional performances, and a period film graininess, To Leslie cements itself as one of the best films currently playing on Netflix.To Leslie (2022)

The film’s ace in the hole is Binaco’s impeccable storytelling. The narrative unfolds with such grace and depth that it effortlessly lures us into the world of his characters. Each scene is meticulously crafted, revealing layer upon layer of emotions, secrets, and interconnected lives. The film delicately explores the complexities of human relationships, showcasing the fragility and resilience of the human spirit. It takes on many profound themes of love, redemption, and the importance of embracing one's true self, topics which will touch every viewer in a different way. Yes, it’s really that powerful.

The acting in To Leslie also needs a mention. The ensemble cast delivers performances that are raw, nuanced, and deeply moving. Each actor breathes life into their respective characters, infusing them with an awe-inspiring level of authenticity. Leading the charge is the talented and versatile Riseborough, whose portrayal of Leslie deserves every bit of the widespread praise she garnered. With every emotional beat and captivating dialogue delivery, the actress effortlessly brings Leslie's struggles… and triumphs… to life. She is so good!

Also deserving of mention is the film’s soundtrack from composer and former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry which consists of a handful of original compositions and a few perfectly-placed syncs from Bob Melrose, Ernie Powell, and Charlotte Hunter. I won’t ruin it here, but I’m having trouble recalling a more appropriately placed song in a film than the Willie Nelson number that scratches from the juke box in one of the film’s seminal scenes. Just another brilliant choice from a top-notch filmmaking team.

I can’t recommend this film enough, fortunately for you it is currently streaming on Netflix. Watch it tonight!

5/5 stars

Film Details

To Leslie (2022)

MPAA Rating: R.
119 mins
: Michael Morris
Ryan Binaco
Andrea Riseborough; Drew Youngblood; Tom Virtue
: Drama

Memorable Movie Quote: "I wanna be a good mama."
Theatrical Distributor:
Momentum Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 7, 2022
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: Inspired by true events. A West Texas single mother wins the lottery and squanders it just as fast, leaving behind a world of heartbreak. Years later, with her charm running out and nowhere to go, she fights to rebuild her life and find redemption.


To Leslie (2022)