SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is one of those rare films where age makes a difference and is applauded. Written by Katy Brand and directed by Sophie Hyde, the comedy stars Emma Thompson as Nancy Stokes, a retired schoolteacher whose carefully lived life was exempt from an orgasm. Deciding she will have a second act in life, Nancy employs Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack) to get it started.
A fish out of water, Nancy meets the dashing, studly, and young man at a hotel room to have sex. Leo possesses manners and confidence but not in an annoying way. He is very engaging with all the moves and know-how and accepts Nancy for all she is without judgment. There are several funny moments depicting Nancy’s way of thinking. For example, she changes her very sensible shoes for ones with more of a heel, but there’s very little difference between them. This sets the stage for what is to come.
“…a retired schoolteacher whose carefully lived life was exempt from an orgasm.”
Leo holds his ground, earning his wage, helping Nancy get over a massive hurdle of hiring a sex worker, having sex, and perhaps having her first orgasm ever. She employs him several more times in which she reveals more and more about herself, her career, family, and her societal opinions. As Leo engages more, he also becomes vulnerable to Nancy’s inquisition about his career of choice, family, and whatever existence he is claiming to be living. Finally, as the meetings come to a head, no pun intended, Leo and Nancy reach an apex to their relationship, offering some fascinating insights into what people need and desire from each other in life, and it’s not all about sex.
As Good Luck to You, Leo Grande goes on, and we get to know Nancy and Leo, what ensues is a great deal of conversation full of wit and the comedic timing only Emma Thompson can do so well. The lead characters learn a great deal from each other, more than being aroused and served. Hyde and Brand explore issues concerning body image, free-thinking, and absolving the past to welcome the present and future. Again, there’s nothing like Thompson’s command of language and dramatic intention to carry a film that takes place in one room with just two main characters. As Leo, McCormack ably holds his own against his titan of a co-star, but the film is hers from start to finish.
What separates Good Luck to You, Leo Grande from other films of this premise of few characters and locations is its excellent camerawork. Bryan Mason’s cinematography allows every shot to fuel the story, giving it depth and meaning. As a result, the film always feels intimate and personal, which works perfectly for the story. In addition, the film has a most interesting ending, which some might seem coming or not fully appreciate. But, it works because for all the focus on interpersonal relations, it is really about aging, the body, and acceptance, as well as letting go.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande screened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
"…one of those rare films where age makes a difference and is applauded."