Good Luck to you Leo Grande
Starring Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack
Not all coming of age stories are about the young. “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” won’t be a film for everyone. However, director Sophie Hyde and writer Katy Brand have found a small slice of originality in this conversation piece that gets frank about sexuality, maturity and self-worth. “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” is a pandemic-era film, shot almost entirely in one room where discussions, not nudity, fill up most of the screentime. Oscar winner Emma Thompson and new discovery Daryl McCormack are fascinating to watch; their chemistry and particular relationship in the story is what feeds the viewers interest to stay invested. The film dances around nudity with intentional cinematic foreplay, however, by the time the actors bare all, the audience is more wrapped up with the film’s emotional elements.
Having had one man her entire life, recently widowed Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) has never had the big O. She has made a wild, ambitious decision to hire an escort to experience all the pleasures she’s missed or been denied the last 55 years. When it comes down to it, Nancy doesn’t think she can do this sort of thing, despite her young, handsome and very calming partner Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack). He explains that some clients just need to talk, hold each other, hold hands, while some simply have carnal needs, and he is more than willing to meet any and all needs of his clients. As she paints the picture of her depressing but dutiful sex life, she lays out the various positions and acts she would like to try over the course of their time together.
McCormack is playing the experienced character, yet the young actor holds his own against the accomplished Thompson in every scene.
It’s difficult to imagine this film being told from an American standpoint, it would likely be something more along the lines of “Something’s Gotta Give.” The script relies heavily on British humor and European attitudes toward nudity and sex. While Brand’s script tells us nearly everything we need to know about the two characters, the confinement of the hotel room is an artistic roadblock for the narrative. “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” is far from “Harold & Maude” or “The Graduate,” it’s a gender-flipped look at exploration later in life. The movie trailer is selling an awkward, sexy comedy, one that turns out to be a profound story about regret and human bonding.
Whether she is the glamorous Baroness in “Cruella” or the snaggle-toothed “Nanny McPhee,” Thompson elevates every role with her own brand of authenticity. It’s hard to imagine anyone else succeeding in this particular role like Thompson does. It’s beyond brave or empowering what she accomplishes. McCormack is playing the experienced character, yet the young actor holds his own against the accomplished Thompson in every scene. If this film was about an older man having experiences with a younger woman, we wouldn’t think twice about it — we would just call it James Bond. As stated before, it’s not a film for everyone. Clearly the studio felt the same, sending it to Hulu this weekend exclusively instead of theaters.
Brave and frank little film about two different generations exploring bedroom secrets.