To Leslie


A West Texas single mother wins the local lottery and promptly blows it all on drugs and booze. Now, six years later, she’s down so low that there’s no place to go but up. But as any alcoholic will tell you, down is easy, up is a bitch.

Now, “redemption via hell” stories like this are not rare, and a cynic would say they’re uniquely suited to Hallmark Channel TV adaptations. Often weepies, they’re enthusiastically consumed by a certain demographic. What is rare is the craft with which writer Ryan Binaco and director Michael Morris (Better Call Saul) have put this miserable yet regenerative portrait together.

But they couldn’t have made such a keenly observed film without the amazing Andrea Riseborough in a role she was born to play. Disappears, as they say, into the part. You’ve seen the talented character actress a dozen times, maybe without it registering. Good to see her land a title role (and an Oscar nom, as well).

This “inspired by a true story” film is not judgmental, and it fully understands the despair of alcoholism. And maybe it’ll do some good.

Okay, honestly, you know redemption will win out. Simply because they don’t write books or make movies about failures. That said, the tension as she claws her way back to humanity is edge-of-the-seat palpable. (119 min)