26 September 2023

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Sophie Hyde, Lionsgate.

It’s difficult to detail charisma, let alone explain it, but you get a chance to see and successfully feel the palpable vibes in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.

It’s there in spades between Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack, made all the more discernible as the film mostly takes place in a single location. The actors are charming, they have chemistry, and they resonate the essential qualities which are essential in the sex dramedy. It all depends on the feel of the moment, the way the actors look at each other, listen or react to emotion, especially as the subject is a sensitive one, and it’s personal: about an uptight woman who hires a younger male escort.

Two-time Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson (Howards End, Sense and Sensibility, Love, Actually) personifies the outspokenness and trepidation of retired teacher Nancy Stokes. Newcomer Daryl McCormack (Peaky Blinders, Fair City) exemplifies the appeal and empathy of sex worker Leo Grande.

Their ‘connection’ – the human interaction – handsomely pays off in the dividends stake, and in unpredicted ways.

Australian director Sophie Hyde employs a simple structure, with a script by Katy Brand, and it’s that link between the lead characters – their bond – that avoids any perils in the film’s execution. Painstaking care is evident.

Cinematographer Bryan Mason weaves his magic as the camera takes different backdrop angles for the one spot: a hotel room. It’s a new take around a bedroom – on the bed, on the couch, in front of the mirror, on the floor at the base of the bed.

Thompson shines as Nancy, who embarks on a post-marital sexual awakening. McCormack, exceptional as Leo, approaches the character without arrogance.

Hyde adroitly handles this sparkling comedy that’s a frank exploration into sexuality, sex work and body image.

  • Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is screening in cinemas

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