Director Sophie Hyde and writer Katy Brand’s Sundance 2022 premiere Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a brilliant boutique film that explores the intersection of womanhood and sexual agency. Its character-driven dialogues about trauma, prejudice, and acceptance are powered by the culmination of lead actress Emma Thompson’s versatile, mesmerising performances. Her precise expressions of vulnerabilities and self-revelations lead us onto an emotional rollercoaster that turns into a means of catharsis.

Almost the entire film takes place in a hotel room, where Thompson’s character Nancy Stokes, a 55-year-old widow, meets up four times with “Leo Grande” (Daryl McCormack), a young, dapper, and caring escort. While Nancy initially hopes for some good sex – and potentially an orgasm which she has never had – Leo and she end up connecting at a deeper level. This unlikely connection through humour, desire, and curiosity is ensued by a whirlwind of clashes between the dynamic duo, whose disparities in moral values and life experiences transform them into mirrors of each other’s egos.

Brand’s script showcases her exquisite penmanship in pacing slow burns that maximise the emotional impact of the film’s climax, which exposes both characters’ flaws and insecurities through their rage and resolution. The seamless transitions from one narrative segment to another are marked by Nancy and “Leo” reaching the crescendo of their mindfucks. Hyde’s spatial command of the hotel room setting is complemented by cinematographer Bryan Mason’s symbolic lighting that smooths over the duo’s healing journey of their bodies and souls.

This is a singularly sexy film that feels mentally stimulating rather than carnal or sensual. Our voyeur into two individuals’ candid exchanges of shame and chaos is redirected towards its end on a positive note of intimacy and positivity – an onscreen manifesto of loving being human and loving being women.

RATING: 4/5


INFORMATION

CAST: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack

DIRECTOR: Sophie Hyde

WRITER: Katy Brand

SYNOPSIS: Hoping for some good sex, a 50-something widow meets up with a young male escort in a hotel room.

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