Nancy Stokes, a 55-year-old widow, is yearning for some adventure, human connection, and some sex–some good sex.
Sophie Hyde’s follow up movie to the excellent ‘Animals’ is a two-hander starring Emma Thompson as a retired widow who decides to hire a male escort (Daryl McCormack) to provide some excitement in her life. ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’ takes place almost entirely in the same hotel room over the course of 3-4 meetings between Nancy (not her real name), and Leo (also not his real name), the escort she’s hired. It might sound like it’s based on a stage play (it isn’t), although I think the format would actually work well, probably even better, in that setting.
Throughout her sessions with Leo, Nancy gradually starts to open up and their conversations expand to talk about their lives, their families and the circumstances that brought them here, alongside of course working through Nancy’s list of sexual experiences she wants to try. We learn that Nancy’s husband died two years prior and she’d never been with another man since or even before meeting him. Her sex life was boring and one dimensional and she feels there’s much she’s missed out on, and she wants to explore those desires with the help of Leo. The performances are strong and the dialogue is well written, albeit a little improvisation may have made the conversations flow a little better, but I felt it was funny and engaging with some well placed moments of pathos throughout.
Emma Thompson for her part, is as magnetic a screen presence as she always is, but newcomer Daryl McCormack more than holds his own opposite her, with his cool and calm Leo a perfect counterpoint to Thompson’s slightly anxious and frazzled Nancy. I found myself enjoying the relaxed banter of their earlier meetings better than the slightly forced dramatic conclusions Hyde attempts to drive the story towards in the latter part of the film, but overall I liked ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’ and it’s a good showcase for its lead performers, one established and one soon to be I suspect.
Directed By: Sophie Hyde
Starring: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack and Isabella Laughland