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good luck to you, leo grande

★★★★

starring: emma thompson, daryl mccormack, and isabella laughland

REVIEWER: nick tonkin

Nancy Stokes, a 55-year-old widow, is yearning for some adventure, human connection and some sex - some good sex.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a comedy/drama directed by Sophie Hyde and written by Katy Brand concerned with the meetings between Nancy, a widowed retiree (Emma Thompson) and Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack), a sex worker Nancy has engaged to help her fulfill something of a checklist of experiences she has long felt were missing from her marriage.

 

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is more interested in exploring the reasons Nancy has put herself in this position with Leo rather than only the salacious side of their interactions, leading to a compelling character examination of both people. The film is structured as each of the meetings Nancy and Leo have, something like chapters. Nancy struggles with the idea that she must invariably be taking advantage of Leo in this context and simultaneously that she is wrong to want the things she has asked Leo for, that such things must be absolutely immoral.

 

Leo helps her examine these ideas, allowing Nancy to come to a kind of realisation that Leo is in this position because he wants to be and that she is an individual with her own wants and needs, rather than only as a mother and widow for the rest of her life. This leads Nancy to become too familiar, crossing the boundaries of their relationship and causing a rift that strains their relationship, which Nancy struggles to understand.

 

Emma Thompson delivers an engrossing performance, convincingly conflicted about the desires her Nancy has for herself and their morality. Daryl McCormack is charming, his Leo is perceptive and sophisticated, and the moment where Nancy crosses the boundaries he laid for their relationship allows Daryl to shine as Leo’s facade slips and for a moment he reveals his real self with personal pain and desires, all of which are private and not for Nancy.

 

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is both a charming comedy and a challenging insightful drama brought to life by excellent performances from Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack.

★★★★