Good Luck to You, Leo Grande - Movie Review
Another Knock-out Performance from Emma Thompson
WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY)
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Now for something completely different.
The premise of this Hulu original film, from Search Foxlight Pictures may seem creaky, cringey and crass, but the film is anything but. Two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson plays Nancy, a late middle-aged widow, who hires an impossibly handsome and charming sex worker, Leo Grande, played by an impressive Daryl McCormack. Nancy has hired Leo because she has never actually experienced sexual pleasure. They meet in a series of scenes in the same hotel room, for “sessions.” The movie unfolds like a very good play, which isn’t usually a good thing for films, but here the long scenes that appear to be about one thing, slowly become about something else-revelatory in the process. Yes, it’s talky, but it is always engaging.
Sometimes making art takes great risks, and writer Katy Brand and director Sophie Hyde do just that. They treat the material seriously, yet it isn’t at all pretentious or didactic. The conviction of all the creative people involved is invisible, but intrinsic for the belief that this story needs to be told. Sex and especially talking about sex can be awkward and muted and there are times when Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is that, but often it is very funny. The humor is important because it not only relaxes the audience but underscores the complexity of feelings about sex. Several quotes about the film reference it as “sex positive.” It is a weird expression but basically means that the film sees sex and sexual fulfillment as a positive thing, and without shame. By focusing tightly on two characters, the film has plenty of time for characterization for Leo Grande. His character development and arc illuminate, like no other film I can recall, the real life of a sex worker with dignity and depth and without derision.
Even when the script covers predictable tropes or expected turns it is never ordinary or cliched. When Nancy and Leo make a personal connection other than sexual it is well earned and refreshing. It is remarkable how engaging the story and characters are, when they are confined to a hotel room for most of the film. There are a few other minor characters sprinkled throughout, but the film is primarily a two-hander, and because of that it must rely on excellent performances and co-stars’ chemistry, and Thompson and McCormack deliver.
I admit my tastes can be arcane and I love independent small films, so I may be a bit biased, but I haven’t seen a better film in 2022. Intimate, funny, real, sexy, emotional, and entertaining, this is the adult film we have been waiting for.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is presently streaming on HULU.
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