Sweeney and Leslie make a great on-screen team. He is as pleasant, simple and direct as Leslie is mercurial, tortured and internalized. But paradoxically, Sweeney is more intriguing in his early on-screen appearances because he’s as generous as Leslie is gripping and manipulative. Rather than kick her off the property, Sweeney offers her a job as a maid at the motel and offers her a room for her to live in. He even claims to have confused Leslie with someone who had applied for the maid job, which gives Leslie a small gift of dignity before she even knows him.
Usually the characters who are so nice in a movie the first time you meet them turn out to be hypocrites, exploiters or worse. Sweeney is a really nice person who seems to want to make everyone’s life better, even if it means losing money and hurting himself personally. Sweeney knows what he’s getting into – we finally get some backstory that explains why he’s so kind and non-judgmental to people with Leslie’s issues, even when she’s most frazzled and pathetic. And yes, you guessed it, he’s nice to her, and Risenborough and Maron have such immediate, easy-going chemistry that you know there’s no way the movie can resist the temptation to pairing up for a happy ending, though in real life a relationship like this is also likely to end when the police or fire department pull up to the hotel in the early hours of the morning.
In the love story aspect, as in others – like Nancy’s cartoonish determination to publicly humiliate the heroine whenever she can – “To Leslie” makes more conventional choices than one would expect. could wish for, especially given the effectiveness of the film. grabs our attention simply by creating a psychologically plausible adult woman and letting us watch her exist. Leslie’s character and Risenborough’s performance in the role is superior to the film surrounding them. Part of “To Leslie” has a kind of heartwarming 1990s Sundance-indie feel, though the unassuming acting and filming, especially during the first act of the razor’s edge, disguises this; the longer the movie goes on, the more predictable the story becomes – and all things considered, there’s probably too much early rundown and not enough scenes showing Leslie doing the hard work of righting her own ship; the balance seems off balance, and there’s probably a whole other, more surprising movie lurking inside that “Ten Months Later” ellipsis near the end.