Forget the controversy, Andrea Riseborough deserves her Oscar nod
To Leslie ★★★★
(M) 119 minutes
You may have heard that English actress Andrea Riseborough gives a great performance in this low-budget American indie film, the debut of veteran TV director Michael Morris. You may also have heard that her Oscar nomination was somewhat erratic, with many famous names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams, Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet behind a last-minute push.
What you may not have heard is that the kerfuffle has a racist undertone. Riseborough beat a couple of highly coveted black actresses. In Until, Danielle Deadwyler plays Mamie Till, mother of murdered 15-year-old boy Emmett Till. She missed out on a nomination, although it’s hardly fair to single out Riseborough for criticism. Behind every Oscar nomination is a campaign. The Riseborough camp couldn’t even afford a commercial ad, so they used word of mouth from famous friends. There’s nothing wrong or wrong with that: Harvey Weinstein used to spend millions to secure a nomination, and no one complained about his cowardly methods.
And it’s true – this is one hell of a performance from an actress who deserves her front row seat. It would be a farce if the Oscar voters didn’t recognize this work.
Riseborough plays an alcoholic single mother who once won a $190,000 small-town lottery. An opening scene shows her in a news clip as a spirited young woman screaming with joy at her win. She cuddles with her son, who is about 12, and explains that she’s going to buy a house and a guitar for James, who wants to be “the next Waylon,” like in Jennings.
Six years later, Leslie is broke and unable to pay her rent at a Texas flophouse motel. She takes the bus to visit her son in Los Angeles, but she can’t stay sober, so James — who’s 20 and hasn’t seen her since he was 14 — sends her back to Texas to join the people she met on the world hates most. Allison Janney and Stephen Root are oddly but effectively cast as a rough-and-tumble biker couple, Nancy and Dutch, taking care of the son when Leslie left him. When Leslie returns to her hometown, Nancy throws taunts at her, making her feel even more worthless.
The first half of the film is hard work. The somber settings, the absolute pain of watching Leslie unravel, gets jittery and Morris stretches it out. The film has a real-time rhythm and long takes that leave us with nowhere to hide. It’s hard to watch her fall from one humiliation to another. Morris does this so the final act takes the story home like a train, and it does.
https://www.smh.com.au/culture/movies/forget-the-controversy-andrea-riseborough-deserves-her-oscar-nod-20230307-p5cq2i.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Forget the controversy, Andrea Riseborough deserves her Oscar nod