SYNOPSIS: Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) doesn’t know good sex. Whatever it may be, Nancy, a retired schoolteacher, is pretty sure she has never had it, but she is determined to finally do something about that. She even has a plan: It involves an anonymous hotel room, and a young sex worker who calls himself Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack). Leo is confident, dapper, and takes pride in being good at his job. He also appears to be intrigued by Nancy — one of many things to surprise her during their time together. [Source: Sundance Institute]
“Good Luck To You, Leo Grande” is a dialogue-heavy, romantic, and intimate narrative. Directed by Sophie Hyde, and written by Katy Brand, the film is a refreshing viewpoint of sex after menopause from the female perspective. Yet, both the male and female lead character development is impressive, considering both Nancy and Leo present with assumptions and leave somewhat changed after their four meetings.
Thompson, who exquisitely portrays the vulnerable and sexually-conservative (to say the least) Nancy, explained that intimacy, whether physical or emotional, brings understanding. “When we are humans together, assumptions mean nothing,” she explained during the Q&A after the premiere screening.
The film navigates Nancy’s willingness to open up physically and explore her physical sexuality. At the same time, Leo, who serves as not only a sex worker, but also a therapist appearing quietly amused by his initial assumptions of Nancy, discovers how cathartic and healing it can be to push past his emotional boundaries. The emotional intensity and chemistry between Thompson and McCormack is sensual in and of itself. Probably the most revealing evidence of this is when Nancy finally discovers her own pleasure through the first orgasm of her life at her own hand, after an intense montage of sex in a variety of positions with Leo. Leo watched pleased that she has checked that box on her “to-do” list.
The end scene is perhaps one of the most powerful. After Nancy and Leo say their final goodbyes and he leaves, Nancy stands in front of the full-length mirror and completely disrobes. She stares at her naked body for the first time in a relaxed and unjudgmental manner. “Good Luck To You, Leo Grande” strikes the perfect balance between unapologetic humor and an earnest study of the art of (self) acceptance.