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HomeEntertainment‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’ Review: Pleasure Principles

‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’ Review: Pleasure Principles

If “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” were a book, it might make a fine choice for a tipsy book club evening. And although the film about an older woman hiring a male prostitute feels ever so briefly like an updated tease of romance-novel fantasies, as directed by Sophie Hyde and written by Katy Brand, “Leo Grande” proves to be a tart and tender probe into sex and intimacy, power dynamics and human connection.

The actors Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack find and then build steadily on the appealing and complex chemistry of their characters as this two-hander unfolds in a mildly posh, yet nondescript hotel room. The film starts with the satiny handsome Leo walking down a street with greet-the-day ease; he’s a professional getting into character. He knocks on the door of a hotel room where Nancy Stokes awaits. She has secured his services, but is still nervous about that decision. Upon Leo’s arrival, Nancy begins nattering — a lot. She has cause to: She’s a retired schoolteacher and widow; and she’s never done anything remotely like this. And by “this” we mean take her own pleasure seriously.

Leo is a sex-positive, 20-something from Ireland. His familial ties are frayed, and Nancy tugs on those threads out of interest, out of guilt, but also to reassert control when she feels exposed. Issues of class figure into her judgments; but the movie feels oddly mum about race. (McCormack is biracial.)

While Nancy might not be limber enough for every sexual position on her check list (for which she dons reading glasses to consult), Thompson is terrifically agile with the script’s zingers and revelations. A relative newcomer, McCormack moves between wit, compassion and vulnerability with grace. In the most transactional sense, Nancy gets even better than what she paid for. Thanks to Thompson and McCormack’s delicate dance, so will audiences.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Rated R for sexual content, nudity and some blue language. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. Watch on Hulu.



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