HULU Review: Emma Thompson has never been better than in 'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande' a sex-positive rom-com
Yes, Emma Thompson has won two Oscars. But her performance in "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" (streaming on Hulu on 6/17), is perhaps her best performance yet.
It's also the sort of role that "women of a certain age" have been clamoring for over the years, and with good reason. It has always been said that there are not enough roles for older women in Hollywood, that don't cast them as grandmothers, maids or cougars. We rarely - if ever - see roles this juicy, this compelling or this real. Or this sexually-honest. Thompson sinks her teeth into this one and gives us one of the most freeing performances of the year, opposite a relatively unknown actor who absolutely rises up to meet Thompson's authenticity.
Cinematically, there isn't much to "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande." Besides a few incredibly brief and fleeting side characters, the entirety of the movie takes place with Nancy Stokes (Thompson) and/or Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack) on-screen. It's the sort of movie that you'd imagine as a stage-play, as its strengths are in the writing and the acting, with the vast majority of the story taking place in a single hotel room suite.
Nancy is an uptight widow, who hires a male escort. Leo Grande is the name he goes by, and he is the quintessential gentleman. His smooth approach, his calmness and his confidence strongly contrast the insecure demeanor of his client. Nancy knows that she wants - no, needs - to live a little and she's never done anything like this before. She immediately regrets her decision to hire a call guy, but as Leo counters each one of her verbal punches, Nancy becomes intrigued by him in several unexpected ways.
Here is a film written and directed by women, for women, but really it is much more than that. This movie is a celebration of what it means to find yourself, a study of the many obstacles that crowd our lives and get in the way of us finding true peace or even relaxation. It challenges our expectations and deviates from normal rom-com standards. Without spoiling anything, it is somewhat miraculous to watch Nancy's metamorphosis from where we meet her to where we leave her.
When we discover that Nancy has never - ever - had an orgasm, we imagine that will be where the movie takes us. It does and it doesn't. I can't overstate how nimble and how precise this script is, from first-time screenwriter, Katy Brand. Her story is elevated by the performances of the two leads, and director Sophie Hyde smartly just relies on the script and her actors and never gets in the way of any of it.
We are tricked (in the best possible way) into thinking this is a movie about an "elderly" woman becoming sexually-awakened, but Nancy's age ends up not being the point. "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" is so subversive and so smart, that it gives us all confidence to be ourselves, to find ourselves...and most importantly, to be proud of ourselves. It's the feel-good movie of the year, and not at all in the way that I might have at first suspected.
Genre: Comedy, Drama.
Run Time: 1 hour 37 minutes.
Starring: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack, Isabella Laughland.
Written by Katy Brand.
Directed by Sophie Hyde ("Animals," "52 Tuesdays").
"Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" is on Hulu on Friday, June 17th, 2022.
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