Once again, we’ve got a Searchlight Pictures special delegated to Hulu. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a 100-minute picture spanning four different meetings between our two main characters in the same hotel room. So right off the bat, we can already tell this is a small and intimate film built for home streaming.
This is the story of Nancy Stokes, played by Emma Thompson. She’s a retired schoolteacher in religious education, her husband passed away about two years ago, her son is a bore, and her daughter is a trainwreck. She’s lived her entire life by the book, everything planned out in advance, and she’s never had an orgasm. And now that Nancy is an elderly widow, mortality is beginning to set in and she’s interested — albeit terrified — in doing something spontaneous.
Enter the eponymous Leo Grande, played by Daryl McCormack. He’s a sex worker who agrees to take on Nancy as a client so they can meet in a hotel room and she can have sex with a younger man. What follows is a solid hour of Nancy trying to move past her emotional and sexual hangups with the help of a young man trying to live under the stigmas and fallacies of sex work.
From start to finish, this is a movie all about body positivity and sex positivity. It was built from the ground up to be an empowering and uplifting movie about finding the beauty in ourselves and others, embracing pleasure and sexuality, and rejecting any stigmas regarding age or body type, all without shame toward ourselves or each other.
Nancy’s development as a character and the process of moving past her anxieties and preconceived notions are the main focus of the movie, but this isn’t entirely a one-way street. After all, Leo has his own life outside of sex work, with his own burdens and hangups to move past. Of course, Leo’s personal life is strictly out-of-bounds in the course of his profession, so Leo makes a point of keeping this all a secret. Until the two of them inevitably grow closer, some rules get broken, and everything between them busts wide open.
Emma Thompson is brilliant, and this kind of wizened vulnerability is well within her wheelhouse. Kudos are due to Daryl McCormack, who proves himself more than capable of holding the screen against an established industry veteran through sheer force of charisma. The writing and direction are unflinching in their approach to the subject matter, though they did hold off on any explicit sex or nudity until the very end, which definitely felt like the right choice.
Otherwise… look, folks, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a 100-minute film between two characters and we never follow them out of the hotel. There’s not much else here to talk about, especially since the characters and the film speak pretty darn loudly for themselves. The performances are wonderful, the discussion is nicely empowering, it’s just a sweet funny and poignant and provocative little romantic dramedy all-around.
I’m glad the film went directly to streaming, because I’d have a REALLY difficult time recommending anyone go out of their way and pay full ticket prices for such a small and intimate picture. Hell, this is one of those times when I almost have to wonder why anyone bothered filming this when a live theatrical production would be just as effective. Hulu really is the best possible place to find and enjoy this one, and I’d definitely recommend giving it a look.