Good Luck to You, Leo Grande Review


A retired widow sets out on a journey of sexual discovery in Sophie Hyde’s sensual, sex-positive dramedy.

Emma Thompson plays to her formidable strengths as Nancy, a caustic but kind RE teacher, recently widowed, who has lived a sexually-unfulfilled existence. She has never orgasmed, given or received oral sex or even attempted a position beyond dutiful missionary with her “boring” ex-husband. Now freed from her matrimonial bonds she hires Leo Grande so she can finally experience some of the sexual exhilaration that has long eluded her. Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck to You, Leo Grande charts Nancy’s voyage of sexual and self-discovery across a series of meeting the two have at a chic hotel.

Leo has an almost angelic presence as an insightful, warm man who loves his job. Where Nancy worries she has hired a “sex-trafficked orphan”, instead she finds an empowered and erudite young man, and the two engage in a witty repartee. While Thompson handling zingy dialogue with emotional crescendos is no surprise, Daryl McCormack as Leo, meets, and occasionally exceeds her. He’s a more calm figure, and has walls of professionalism around him, strictly adhering to a code of behaviour while gently rebuffing Nancy’s presumptions around him. The confines of the hotel room give Nancy permission to become pure id, yet McCormack has the challenge of retaining a consummate professionalism while still allowing some of Nancy’s crueller words cut through.

While keeping to the confines of a single suite has “Covid filming restrictions” written all over it, the limited location also give the film an almost sci-fi veneer with our two leads disconnected from the outside world, neither using their own name. The passage of time feels elastic. The two talk openly about motherhood, sex work, education and body-image with a natural zippiness, Katy Brand’s script makes the progress through such hot button topics seamless. The chemistry between the two, the gentle teasing and unexhibited dancing that slowly melts into the sex is utterly delicious. Nancy shocks herself by hiring Leo Grande in the first place that, yet the fact she continues to go back to him feels entirely earned.

Both Leo Grande and director Hyde’s focus is on Nancy’s pleasure, be it enjoying being eaten out with aplomb or tracing her hands across a muscular chest. It’s a joy to see a bona fide national treasure like Thompson confidently naked on screen and presented as an object of desire at 62. While its not a sugar- coated fairytale and the film veers off the path “sex sainthood” with boundaries being crossed and Oedipal undertones acknowledged, the film is still best at its sweetness. The story focuses on the mutual gratification the protagonists provide each other, and how two imperfect humans meeting can prove a shared antidote for worldly ills.