It’s been a long time since we’ve had a feel-good movie like this one. Sure, there have been tons of movies out there but, we’re talking about the kind of film that makes you laugh, cry, and really think. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande starring Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack is that feel-good movie for us.
Good Luck To You, Leo Grande follows the story of a widower named Nancy (Thompson) who over the course of a month has multiple meetups with a sex-worker named Leo Grande (McCormack). She’s hired Leo because she wants to experience feeling something again. This may sound like a simple premise, but it’s really a story about so much more.
Though Nancy and her late husband Robert were married for years, she always felt unfulfilled. I’m not talking about her only feeling sexually unfulfilled, although that is one of the issues. What Nancy wants with Leo is the intimacy she’s never truly experienced. Robert was the only man that Nancy had ever been with and with him gone, she feels like it’s time to do something for herself. That something else, of course, is Leo.
What is so great about Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is how real the story is. Writer Katy Brand and Director Sophie Hyde have painted a beautiful and heartwarming picture of the female aging experience. Society cannot fathom that an older woman past their forties would still want to engage in sexual activity but that’s what Nancy wants. And she deserves it. It’s like there is this unspoken shelf-life we are not aware of. It’s literally, “Okay, you’ve been the wife, you’ve been the mom, your job is done. Now you can retreat into the shadows.”
Just the idea of Nancy even hiring a sex-worker to please her is controversial. She says as much during her conversation with him when they meet for the first time. For Nancy to want sex at her age feels strange, and the fact that she wants it with a younger man makes it even more so. But that is because society deems it so. When we think about an older man with a younger woman, people don’t really make as much noise about it. When it comes to an older woman wanting sex with a younger man the chatter never stops and the woman is shamed to no end.
Nancy knows all of this and that alone is what keeps her from allowing her guard to come down. The first meeting is a long sequence, but it is totally necessary. I appreciated that Leo and Nancy didn’t just get right down to business as soon as he arrived because that’s not realistic. Nancy is so unsure of herself, and she gets into her own head a lot in this moment. There’s a lot of moving around throughout the hotel room and it truly makes the audience feel how anxious she is. Leo does his best to calm her nerves and just allows her to go at things in her own way.
Their conversation is candid and it’s probably one of the most honest conversations Nancy has ever had with another man. That’s what Leo does though. He makes his clients feel comfortable enough to share their feelings. That’s not to say Leo himself isn’t nervous as well. No matter how confident he may appear in front of Nancy, when he’s alone he has his moments of obvious insecurity. It’s in the way he examines himself in the mirror or even how he tries to present himself on the bed to entice Nancy. Daryl McCormack did a great job of showing both sides of that. The confident Leo Grande and the not so confident person he is in reality. Seriously, if you don’t already know Leo Grande is a fake name, you’ve never played the “stripper name game,” but I digress.
Something else that I appreciated from Nancy and Leos initial conversation was that she just laid everything out in the open. She told Leo in her 31 years of marriage, she had the same sex day in and day out with zero variation. She told Leo she’d never had an orgasm and that was a big deal. We need to let conversations like these happen and stop making it taboo to do so onscreen. TV and film constantly puts out this message that every woman in the world is having mind-blowing sex with their partners and that’s not accurate.
Nancy doesn’t mince words when she tells Leo that his goal while with her is not to give her an orgasm and she does not plan on faking one. She’s faked it for 31 years and she’s done. That was so refreshing to hear her say. Why can’t a woman voice that the man she’s been with didn’t please her? Why is it that a woman has to stroke a man’s ego in the bedroom? That’s how relationships fail. No communication.
Nancy and Leo do eventually have sex in their first meeting and subsequently, she books him a few more times. Each time the two meet there is a shift in their relationship. Nancy has gotten more confident and feels free to express exactly what she wants. For real, Nancy writes a list that she gives to Leo with the five things she wants to try in the bedroom. We ain’t mad at her for that, because the woman knows what she wants.
All of Good Luck To You, Leo Grande takes place within the confines of the same hotel room and it’s just Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack onscreen the entire time. Both of these actors are incredible. I mean, we already knew that about Emma Thompson, but this role is one that she’s never tackled before. Playing Nancy has taken her into completely new territory. She’s emotionally and physically vulnerable in every way. Watching her onscreen gave me such joy because she’s delightfully funny. She also brought me to tears more times than I expected.
The way that she delivers lines like “Am I a disappointment?” when talking to Leo about the way she looks will break your heart. Because she’s older, Nancy doesn’t think there is anything attractive about her and she can’t understand why Leo even agreed to meet with her in the first place. Leo is so kind and explains to her the importance of loving her body. He shares with her his own vulnerability as well. Although Nancy doesn’t believe it, he tells her he’s also got a “voice that talks shit at you.”
This leads me to Daryl. While I am now aware he was in Peaky Blinders (which I’ve still yet to watch), this was my first time watching anything with him in it. He had me hooked from the moment I saw the trailer and that continued into the release of this movie. Daryl brought something so special to Leo. As I mentioned earlier, he was able to really capture both his confidence and his insecurity. It was important to see both sides because it made us love him more. If he was just totally confident all the time, we wouldn’t take him seriously and personally, it would have taken me out of the film.
The chemistry between Emma and Daryl was also nice to see. Because it’s just the two of them onscreen for an hour and a half, we have to be completely engaged with them and we were. There was such a nice balance of laughter and sexiness between the two and they just did it so perfectly. Everything flowed in such a natural way, and it was really entertaining. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is such a good film and I hope people walk away from it with an entirely different viewpoint than they may have had before.
- I am now in love with Daryl McCormack and plan on doing a deep dive into his IMDb profile.
- Daryl McCormack’s eyes. That is all.
- “May I kiss you on the cheek?” did we swoon when Leo asked Nancy this question? Yes, we did.
- The “There’s always something to fancy” moment was so tender.
- Leo and Nancy asking each other for consent to touch each other was something we really loved. Just because she hired him, that didn’t mean they wouldn’t both still need to give and get consent for things.
- “Why won’t you take what you want when it’s right here within reach?”
- “Maybe they should have realized those girls weren’t there for them.” Yes Leo! This response he gave when Nancy talked about the way the young girls dressed and it being enticing to the male teachers where she taught spoke volumes.
- The conversation about legalizing sex-work was an interesting one.
- BOUNDARIES Nancy! BOUNDARIES!
- The final scene with Emma Thompson standing in the mirror was beautiful.