#SUNDANCE: “GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE”
By Mr. Will Wong
One of the films we were looking forward to seeing most at the Festival this year was Sophie Hyde‘s GOOD LUCK TO YOU LEO, GRANDE. While its premise might seem a bit comical and outlandish, in Hyde‘s capable hands and some pitch-perfect chemistry between its two leads, this feels just right.
Nancy (Emma Thompson) is a widowed, former teacher whom self-admittedly has “faked it” all along. She enlists the help of a sex worker who goes by the name of Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack) to do something about that. The two meet discreetly in a hotel room and things are a bit awkward. We wonder if this will even go anywhere at all. Nancy is carrying with her several years of repressed feelings and shame about sexuality, herself having lectured her young female students not to wear their kilts too high so not to send the wrong message out to men. And Leo has a bit to overcome in getting Nancy to release her inhibitions. With each passing encounter, we see the escort and client form a bit of a bond as they grow more comfortable with one another. But in exploring their pasts to help them deal with the present, some uncomfortable feelings are uncovered. This threatens to destroy this the bond of trust they have built between them.
Comedian Katy Brand brings us a tender story which strikes a fine balance of funny and heartfelt. Beneath the transactional exchanges that take place between our two leads, lies a very meaningful story that encourages the audience to understand how these characters are a construct of their pasts. Yes, part of the story is the sex obviously, but we become deeply-invested in both Nancy and Leo‘s stories in both the present and the past. Hyde‘s delicate handling of the subject matter and very intentional choice to leave sex off-screen for much of the Film, drives our focus where it should be precisely.
Thompson true to form, is phenomenal as a woman experiencing her own sexual awakening late in life. She never stops being a retired school teacher or a mom, but it is a fascinating journey seeing her discover a side of herself that’s been suppressed. McCormack certainly is a star on the rise with some roles on high-profile series like Peaky Blinders and The Wheel of Time, though this a wonderful showcase of his range and talent. We meet him as the seductive Leo Grande, yet also – pardon the pun – the stripped-down person behind the persona.
An entertaining story with a message of sex positivity we can get behind. This was an immense pleasure. (There I go again!)
GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE screens at Sundance as follows:
- JAN. 22 5:00PM EST Available Until Jan. 22 8:00PM EST
- SECOND SCREENING JAN. 23 10:00AM EST Available Until Jan. 26 10:00AM EST