Directed by: Sophie Hyde
Written by: Katy Brand
Starring: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack
Released: August 18, 2022
Grade: A

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

The setting a standard hotel room with a queen bed, mini bar, and city views. The sixty-something-year-old Nancy (Thompson) is not there on holidays though. After months of nervous deliberation and procrastination, she’s finally harnessed the courage to book a male escort for a two hour “session”. His name is Leo (McCormack) and while he doesn’t give up too much information about his backstory and other clients, you can tell he’s got the experience, both physically and conversationally, to meet her needs.

In a constant state of unease, Nancy finally opens up about what she wants. She’d been married for over three decades but when her husband passed away two years ago, it got her thinking about life’s opportunities that she never took advantage of. One of those is sex. Her husband is the only person she’s ever made love with and she wouldn’t describe him as a passionate, adventurous lover. There’s a humorous scene where Nancy explains her husband’s hapless bedroom antics and it’s no surprise to learn she’s never had an orgasm in her life.

The film has a claustrophobic feel in that, for the most part, it’s set entirely within the hotel room. While they both have separate lives outside its walls (Nancy talks about being a mum and a retired school teacher), the only “version” we see of these two characters is that which exists while they’re together. Australian director Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays) has split the film into four distinct chapters which coincide with their total number of meetings (it’s all Nancy can afford).

It may sound limited in terms of scope but without unnecessary supporting characters, it provides a great opportunity to delve deeply into the two leads. The experienced Emma Thompson (Howard’s End) and relative newcomer Daryl McCormack work brilliantly off each other. They share lengthy conversations, sometimes humorous and sometimes dramatic, which allow us to peel back their outer layers and see what truly lies beneath. There’s a splash of sex too!

Dialogue isn’t always necessary though. As an example, I love the choice of Hyde to keep the camera on Leo when Nancy slips off to the bathroom during their first encounter. He’s very smooth and suave when in Nancy’s presence but these moments allow us to see a more vulnerable side to Leo. It provides a reminder that who we are around others isn’t always the same as who we are when alone. These early scenes also signal that the movie is as much about Leo finding peace with his life choices it is about Nancy’s.

Helping breakdown stigmas and stereotypes when it comes to sex workers, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is an interesting, progressive character study that offers up material we don’t usually see on the big screen. It’ll provide great talking points with family/friends and is not to be missed.

You can read my chat with director Sophie Hyde by clicking here..