Good Luck To You, Leo Grande review: genuinely thrilling

Daryl McCormack and Emma Thompson inGood Luck To You, Leo Grande
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Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is a genuinely affecting drama comedy with a fearless performance from Emma Thompson. 

Emma Thompson (The Remains Of The Day, Sense And Sensibility, Love Actually) gives one of her best and most memorable performances yet in this engaging two-hander from director Sophie Hyde (Animals) and comedian-turned screenwriter Katy Brand. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City earlier this year, charts the intimate relationship between a 55-year-old widow and a 20-something male sex worker, and covers a series of clandestine meetings that take place in a hotel.

Widowed retiree Nancy Stokes (Thompson) feels unfulfilled both sexually and intellectually and seeks to remedy that by hiring the services of Leo Grande (Peaky Blinders alum Daryl McCormack), a handsome young male sex worker. Despite his palpable fascination with his new client, Leo has made it abundantly clear that he wishes to keep their relationship professional, all the while making sure Nancy’s demands are always met.

Over several meetings and hours of conversations about life, love and everything in between, Nancy finds herself more and more attached to her young companion, who seemingly feels the same way. Things, however, come to a head when personal boundaries are breached and secrets are revealed, leading Leo to put his foot down and threaten to end their arrangement.

Hyde’s last film was the flawed, but undeniably well acted, adaptation of Emma Jane Unsworth’s 2014 best selling novel Animals. Here she delivers a brilliantly understated ode to female sexual empowerment that goes further than any other film on the subject has gone before. Much has been made in the press of Thompson’s daring full-frontal nude scene, but perhaps the most daring thing about the film is its unabashedly feminist approach to sex after 50 for women.

Elevated by Brand’s expertly paced dialogue and gorgeously layered storytelling style, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande manages to successfully break away from its slightly stagey two-hander format to deliver an engaging, funny and hugely affecting drama comedy.

Thompson puts in a fearless and, typically for her, disarming turn as a woman who has to relearn to love everything about herself in order to reclaim her sexuality. For his part, McCormack oozes confidence and charm, all the while managing to avoid coming across as cocky or domineering. The result is truly a match made in heaven.

It’s not every day we are presented with a piece of filmmaking that is so set on rewriting the rule book on how women of a certain age are viewed, and for that reason alone, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande will prove to be an essential work for many years to come. This is a real eyeopener and yet another fantastic performance by Emma Thompson who seemingly can’t put a single foot wrong. Genuinely thrilling.

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is in UK cinemas from 17th June.

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