Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is an audacious film that deals with subject matter that isn’t talked about enough in Hollywood — the human body and how we as a society deal with our own bodies and how others perceive us and what we look like with and without our clothes on. This film opened at the Sundance Film Festival 2022 and streams this week on Hulu.
Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson), an older woman, is a retired school teacher who has lost her husband. She’s alone and decides to call a sex service and requests Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack), a young Black man. The two hit it off even though there is an apparent age and cultural background difference between the two. Between three meetings, these two get to know each other on many different levels.
Age is always taboo in Hollywood, especially when paired with sex. This film examines how age and sex can be linked together constructively. Loneliness is debilitating for some, especially older people who’ve lived a long, happy life with their significant other. Sometimes this means exploring other avenues to be satisfied and or happy again. This film adeptly deals with these topics and doesn’t shy away from the hard questions.
On the flip side, the film also deals with another topic that is usually tiptoed around in films: sex workers. Sometimes it is a blatant thing, like in Pretty Woman, where the main character is clearly a prostitute, and in this film, Leo Grande talks about fulfilling dreams and making his customers happy. Each customer has different things they need from him. In this case, Thompson’s character needs him to assure her that she’s worth something and still desirable no matter what her head tells her or what she sees in a mirror.
We all have that moment where we’re in the shower and say to ourselves, “This is what I look like without clothes on? I guess I have to live with my body or do something about it.” Loneliness can be a midfield of regret and lost opportunities that we either have to live with or do something about. If you are happy with your life, keep living it and try to find meaning in whatever you’re doing. If you’re not satisfied, go out and do something that makes a difference in how you live your life.
Emma Thompson, Academy Award-winning actress for Howards End, and Daryl McCormack, a relative newcomer, are both fantastic in this film. They are not afraid to go to different levels with these characters that aren’t easy to go to. They, with their performances, do a lot of heavy lifting. They don’t shy away from asking the viewer hard questions like how we would react in these situations. They handle this material like seasoned veterans.
This film examines topics that aren’t typically talked about in big movies. Writer Katy Brand and the director Sophie Hyde deliver an examination into our own lives rarely seen these days. Dealing with topics of self-worth and body image isn’t easy in films, but they handle it with ease and an adept hand like seasoned pros. If this is the kind of film these two can make, I look forward to their future work.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media