GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE

Cast: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack 

Director: Sophie Hyde 

97 mins

Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) has lived a life of regimented routine for nearly her entire 50-plus years and she’s been a widow for two of them, after 31 years of marriage to her husband. A former religious studies teacher, she has two grown-up children now off living their own lives and doesn't seem to have a great deal of connection outside her restricted life. Now she has declared herself ready – in her mind at least – to make a radical change to her mundane existence. Enter Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack). Leo Grande is a sex worker, whom Nancy hires to meet her in a hotel room, as she claims she's ready to find pleasure again. However, once Leo arrives at the door, she immediately re-thinks her previously daring arrangement and it ends up with Leo having to listen to Nancy panic about the current state of her life. Although she is paying him to be there, Leo seems genuinely empathetic to Nancy and happy just to listen to her talking – and indeed offers a few nudges of encouragement towards the pleasure part of their meetings. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a delightful film about connection that allows Thompson to fully inhabit a three-dimensional person who doesn't feel she should want the desires she has, but as Leo tries to remind her, there's nothing wrong with desiring companionship.


Director Sophie Hyde reportedly shot the film in less than 20 days and, apart from a scene towards the end, the entire piece takes place in Nancy's hotel room over the course of different sessions. It’s a creative and independent form of storytelling, made during the 2020-2022 pandemic restrictions. Thompson and McCormack offer beautifully crafted performances, as the characters develop a lovely, finely-tuned chemistry of two people who are in completely different places in their lives, but have more common ground than you might expect. The film elegantly navigates their relationship through a sex farce, comedic banter, and moments of genuinely touching truth with great ease, and the performers meet Katy Brand's screenplay every step of the way. In addition, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande delicately tackles quite a number of issues in just over the 90 minutes running time, including an effort to de-stigmatise Leo's job as a sex worker. Nancy hires Leo for a service, but the film is actually more about two people who really need to find another person to be honest with, and receive no judgment in return. It's a testament to Hyde that she was able to capture that story without taking any of the predictable or obvious routes that a lesser film may have felt unable to avoid.