Universal Struggles – A Review of Leslie
Struggling musician Holly (Kika Magalhães) can’t seem to catch a break. Money troubles, a relationship on the rocks, a sister with whom she cannot connect, and a broken down car all weigh on her. But when a life-altering obstacle comes her way, Holly is faced with tough decisions about how proceed, particularly when she most likely will have to go it alone. Her emotional trials are brought to life in the poignant and touching short film Leslie by writer/director Alejandro Montoya Marin.
Leslie is one of those films where all the elements synthesize seemingly effortlessly. Fresh from her breakout role in The Eyes of My Mother, Kika Magalhães turns in a completely different sort of performance that’s equally impressive. It’s difficult to resist comparing the two roles when here she plays a character so identifiable and every glimmer of her emotions are immediately resonant (pretty much 180 degrees from The Eyes of My Mother). Her performance is captured in some truly gorgeous cinematography by Ariel Rakes. Some of the shots are just jaw-dropping. Together, Marin and Rakes have crafted a film evocative of the works of director/cinematographer pair David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth, on what I have to assume was the tiniest fraction of the budget. Not to be overlooked by the sights are the films sounds, with a score by Brendan Canning (of Broken Social Scene, a personal favorite band of mine). The score practically floats through the scenes, enhancing without overwhelming the visuals. Contributions by Yo La Tengo and the Magnetic Fields also complement the narrative and I might owe the filmmakers a debt of gratitude for introducing me to Peppina.
Packed with much heart, Leslie has a lingering effect, like a new song you want to listen to on repeat. It’s a human story told well about the struggles we all face and the opportunity to make great art from those struggles. In its celebration of the bravery to follow your dreams, it offers a much needed dose of optimism for its audience.