Advertisement

Sundance movie review: 'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande' provokes fascination, frustration

1/5
Sundance movie review: 'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande' provokes fascination, frustration
Leo (Daryl McCormack) tries to make Nancy (Emma Thompson) comfortable. Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- "Emma Thompson hires a male escort" is a high enough concept that it could be a big studio raunchy comedy. Of course, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, which premiered virtually at the Sundance Film Festival, classes it up considerably.

Nancy (Thompson) waits in the hotel room for Leo (Daryl McCormack) to arrive. She has hired him for an hour and they get to know each other before doing the deed.

Advertisement

The film does take place entirely in the hotel room, except for shots of Leo walking the streets to arrive and one last scene at a restaurant. It's up to the script and the cast to keep the dynamic interesting, but with this level of talent that's not an issue.

It is fascinating to see how Leo makes Nancy comfortable. That's as important a part of his job as the sex, because most of his clients are likely calling upon his services for the first time. Plus, his service involves more than sex. It's making them feel desirable.

Advertisement

Nancy is nervous and guilty at first. Leo can handle that and reassure her. She is a widow of two years who faked all of her orgasms with her late husband. Leo will only be her second sexual partner.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande doesn't make Nancy a saint, either. She judges some of Leo's stories and this is not his first time having to push back on traditional prejudices against sex work.

Nancy and Leo have three sessions together so their relationship develops over three scenes. This also allows the actors to change wardrobe. Director Sophie Hyde keeps the staging interesting as they sit on the couch and move to the bed, let alone when they attempt different positions at Nancy gets more adventurous.

The conversation is the point. Nancy reveals regrets, what she'd hoped to accomplish had she not become a mother. The film interrogates notions of sex work as Leo defends his profession, and Nancy, a teacher, shares some of her students' essays on the subject.

The film itself seems to feel a bit guilty to just focus on a relationship between a woman and her escort. It is understandable that Nancy gets attached and oversteps, but that also makes their relationship more about her saving him, or wanting to at least.

Advertisement

It suggests that a mature woman cannot have a sexual awakening without triggering some emotional neediness. Perhaps women of Nancy's age, 62, will vouch for that. It does pay off in the film confronting Nancy's conservative views and the mistakes she made as a teacher of impressionable young women.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a showcase for Thompson's screen presence, and the discovery of McCormack, who has previously appeared on shows like Peaky Blinders and The Wheel of Time.

Going toe-to-toe with Thompson is sure to raise his profile considerably. Hyde and writer Katy Brand show adept at exploring challenging material in a confined setting, too.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement