Sex and cinema haven’t historically been good bedfellows. The sight of two people getting it on often has censors clutching for their pearls, but thankfully, this new comedy-drama gets permission to be a bit more grown up. Emma Thompson plays Nancy, a retired RE teacher who hires handsome young escort Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack) for two hours to explore the pleasure she never felt with her late husband.
During the appointment, both confront issues surrounding sex, body image, and regrets from the past. The film is largely two characters in one room, a scenario which appropriately leaves little room for the storytelling to hide. Happily, the film passes the test. Yes, the set up feels more like a play than a film at times, and Katy Brand’s script can shout its message when a whisper would have worked just fine.
However, you’d be hard pressed to find a film that deals with these subjects in a way that feels accessible. Thompson, who has recently played a lot of fearsome characters on screen, embraces Nancy’s vulnerability beautifully as she goes back and forth about the morality of this transaction, as well as her own view of herself. “Don’t mock me, I’m a teacher – old habits die hard!” she says with a mixture of sternness and fear as she presents Leo with a sexual wish list.
McCormack is suave and sexy, but by no means an accessory. He’s not there to save or be saved by Nancy, but rather take part in a meaningful exchange that will leave both in a better place. The scenario may feel unrealistic, but the emotions will strike right at the core of many insecurities. The occasional bluntness of director Sophie Hyde’s drama is overruled by its tone. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande takes bold issues and discusses them humanely. Over thirty years on from her film debut, Thompson continues to evolve as an actor in ways that most stars could only dream of.
Good Luck to you, Leo Grande is in cinemas now