Directed by Alejandro Montoya Marín
Starring Kika Magalhaes, Marty Lindsey, Daniel Pattison & Amy Baklini
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
An astonishing short film, Leslie is an absolutely breathtaking story about life and dreams, and the courage it takes to endure relentless setbacks to achieve artistic fulfilment.
Following the haphazard life of a musician called Holly (Kika Magalhaes) attempting to 'live the dream', but who actually spends most of her time barely scraping by, we are introduced to Holly at the beginning of the short film inside a tired looking bar begging its manager for an advance on her pay. After travelling back to her unremarkable apartment, picking up a fast food burger on her lonesome along the way, and stuffing the remaining dollars in a jar, we quickly ascertain that our heroine is quietly losing, both in financial terms and success. The story then takes an emotional path once we learn that Holly is facing a huge, emotional fork in the road that will force her to question her future, possibly alone, as her unhelpful sister (Amy Baklini) and aloof boyfriend (Daniel Pattison) offer little comfort.
There is something exquisite about Alejandro Montoya Marín’s movie, that captures a heartbreaking moment in this character’s life whilst delivering a film that is utterly gorgeous to look at. The filmmaking is nuanced and subtle, then vamps up to an emotional crescendo involving a hospital scene that is quite literally one of the most affecting pieces of cinema I have had the honour of watching this year. Magalhaes delivers a perfect moment as her character reaches the very pinnacle of her dilemma which is tear-jerking and moving.
Watch the official movie trailer for short film Leslie above.
It was wonderful to watch a film that remained tonally consistent throughout, leveraging the deep pathos that surrounds Holly as she contemplates sacrificing her artistic endeavours, against the visually pleasing framing of an urban street, or the exterior of a car window with rain pouring outside. The soft lighting added a warmth to an otherwise cold story, and the flashback sequences were wonderfully dreamlike without feeling too detached. Everything felt well sculpted, and hugely impressive.
As mentioned, the central performance from Magalhaes is excellent. She navigates the close, personal journey of her character with a skilled poise and elegance, whilst turning in huge dramatic moments that were deeply troubling to watch when needed. Her set pieces with Baklini are also some of the most enjoyable sections of Leslie, offering a take on a believable sibling rift without any of the usual amatuer dramatics, instead relying on relatable motivations and sensibilities. Another superb section happens when Holly’s car breaks down and she is rescued by a friendly cab driver (Marty Lindsey); the two have an enjoyable discussion about her musical prospects, and it was lovely to see life being breathed into her simply through some kind words about her talent.
One of the strongest elements of Leslie, as a story, is how much someone’s personality can be defined by the creative aspirations they have built the foundation of their character with, and how tragic it can be when ‘life’ attempts to force one to abandon them.
Poignant and beautifully filmed, Leslie is a film for the artist - in whatever shape art or creativity takes in your life. This is a story about the hardships, the hurdles, and the heartbreak which inevitably gets weighed against the hope.