Astonishing but true: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022), a movie about an elderly woman hiring a young sex worker, never feels tawdry or exploitative.
Sophie Hyde’s entertaining film, brilliantly written by Katy Brand, is set mostly in a hotel room where Nancy (Emma Thompson) and Leo (Daryl McCormack) meet for four sessions. A former school teacher, Nancy confesses to Leo that she has never done anything like this before – but struggles to follow through on her adventure.
Leo – handsome, seasoned at dealing with all kinds of clients, articulate in English as well as the vocabulary of pleasure – seeks to put Nancy at ease. Between Nancy’s relatable awkwardness and Leo’s seductive ways, we have the unfolding of a most unusual sexual awakening story, one that brings out the best and worst in both characters.
The 97-minute film is available for hire on Prime Video. Plainly shot and edited, the film draws its power from the screenplay’s raw honesty, the understated humour, and the superbly matched actors. While Emma Thompson channels a wealth of experience in playing the frustrated Nancy, Daryl McCormack is remarkable as the young man whose surface smoothness masks aching vulnerability.
It boggles the mind that Thompson wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for her performance. Thompson has rarely been better, and her bravery in participating in some of the film’s bolder scenes is inspirational.
Among the film’s themes is the need for older women to attend to their sexual needs. This grown-up, often very funny, and moving film, addresses a demographic that is neglected by the movies. By shutting Thompson out of the Oscars, the Academy Awards proved Nancy’s worst fears.