A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Promotes honesty and communication among family and friends, loving a person even if you hate their addiction, recognizing that addiction is a disease and not a choice once it's fully manifested, and supporting those you love. Also argues that, as people and a country, we need to do a better job of understanding and treating addiction.
Positive Role Models
Leslie has many flaws, but she keeps trying, learns to ask for forgiveness, eventually finds a way to stay sober. James loves his mother and wants to help her, but he doesn't want to enable her drinking. Sweeney gives Leslie a chance after she had exhausted them.
The cast is White, working-class, and from Texas, with the exception of two Black supporting characters. Although most addiction dramas seem to center around men, this one focuses on a woman.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Leslie experiences intimate partner abuse. She's shown with visible bruises after going home with a man at a bar (it happens off camera). On camera, a man tries to kiss her even though it's clear she's uninterested. He tries to forcibly kiss her, and she manages to fight back enough to get away. She runs away from him and ends up sleeping on the street. People yell at Leslie. James ends up in a fistfight with his neighbors when he realizes his mother was partying with them. Leslie frightens a family when she shows up at their house drunk and announces she used to live there. Arguing.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Adults kiss. Leslie flirts with various men at bars and, in one case, goes home with one. In another scene, she tries really hard to pick up a man, but he declines her offers. Nonsexual nudity: a man howls naked into the night.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Extremely strong language in nearly every scene, including dozens and dozens of uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "Jesus f--king Christ," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "t-ts," "saddlebags," etc.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Leslie drinks a lot and tries to keep it a secret from her son, stashing whiskey under her mattress. At bars, she drinks shots, beer, and hard liquor. A lot of her time on camera is spent trying to get drunk or being drunk. She also smokes cigarettes, as do other adults, who also drink. Adults also smoke marijuana recreationally. Leslie shares a joint with her young adult son.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that To Leslie is a drama about a woman whose dependence on alcohol comes close to ruining her life. Her inability to stop drinking leads to Leslie's (Andrea Riseborough) finding herself without a job or a place to live, heading back to her small Texas hometown, where she previously burned many bridges. Expect many scenes of alcohol abuse, very strong language in nearly every scene (including dozens of uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," and "a--hole"), and intimate partner abuse attempts both on and off camera. Smoking and drinking are pervasive, and there's also a scene of recreational marijuana use between a mother and her young adult son. Families who watch with their teens can discuss the nature of alcohol and substance addiction and how it impacts people of all ages. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Riseborough gives a riveting performance in this addiction drama about the need for empathy toward people who've exhausted their second chances. This isn't an easy film to watch, but viewers won't be able to look away. Director Michael Morris, working off of a screenplay by Ryan Binaco, manages not to judge Leslie for her continuous compulsion to drink. He also doesn't succumb to the predictable formula of having her get clean for her kid -- or after her former best friends offer her yet another chance to prove she's changed. Leslie doesn't magically get better just because James (Teague is fabulous in the supporting role) desperately wants her to stay sober. The conversations between Leslie and James are powerful, nuanced, and heartbreaking.
The other supporting actors have just as much impact. Janney seems cruelly unforgiving as Nancy, but once it becomes clear exactly what Leslie did, it's hard to judge Nancy for wanting nothing to do with Leslie's lies. But aside from Riseborough, the real star of the film is Maron, who's quietly, intensely kind as the lonely and curmudgeonly Sweeney, a man who understands how addiction works and alienates people. He sees Leslie exactly as she is, but also as she could be. Their connection is deep, and while there's more platonic energy than romantic chemistry between them, it's obvious why they'd be attracted to each other. There's nowhere for Leslie to go but up, and, despite her countless lies and flaws, audiences will find it impossible not to hope she can make it, one day at a time.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.