Sundance Film Festival Review- Searching Intimacy with, “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.”

Sundance Film Festival Review- Searching Intimacy with, “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.”
Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack appear in <i>Good Luck to You, Leo Grande</i> by Sophie Hyde, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Nick Wall. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

A favorite talking point of mine is that too many people confuse lust for love. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (which from this point further will be mentioned simple as Good Luck… for brevities sake) in no way connects to this idea. But, in a similar vein, it looks at intimacy in a way that breaks it down into levels. Each level is just as important to connecting to another person and even finding yourself.

Now retired teacher Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) has come to a point where she wants to explore avenues of sex that she had not in her past. She has no experiences outside of those she had with her husband, who passed two years prior, and her physical experiences with him were as vanilla as they come. Not particularly interested in the suitors who have approached her in those years, Nancy has set up a meeting with a gigolo; the titular Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack).

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What transpires over a handful of trysts opens up the narrowed, nervous world of Nancy’s past, as well as a few doors that Nancy and Leo never thought would be opened between them.

Nancy’s prudishness comes from old world thinking. Till this point where she has decided to finally try something new, she was happy to spread the word of sexual modesty as if she was a Sunday School Nun. She’s also never had an orgasm, she frankly thinks they’re a myth. It’s clear that Nancy’s yesteryear way of thinking expands far beyond what takes place in the bedroom. She herself needs a teacher, a mentor, someone open her eyes.

This is where Good Luck… expands its views past sexual awakenings. Even for people who are free with their love lives and open beyond a fault have the same gaps in personal connections that they opposite end of the spectrum suffer from. A person like Leo can almost be compared to a psychotherapist. Someone with a knowledge base outside of another’s who works as a sounding board. Opening up thought conversation can be as intimate as physically connecting with another. It’s not to say that everyone should hire a personal companion to learn about themselves, but the effects can work.

I mean, you don’t even have to say it has to be a prostitute of course. The point is, if you can be open with another person, you will yourself open up. But, Good Luck… does also explore the gap in understanding that the world has about sex workers. It’s not a gospel to praise them, but it does work to normalize the practice and remove the shame that can be associated in people’s minds for those that choose to go into the profession.

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There are all types of services that are not considered normal that people are willing to deliver on. It may not always be what they want to do, but they’re there to comfort you.

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A film that takes place mainly in a hotel room, about the dealings of only two people need strong performances to keep the story lively and fresh. Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack are perfect and making these characters feel real and sympathetic. The charm and style that drips of McCormack feels both genuine and part of Leo’s job all in one, where Thompson pulls out a rainbow of vulnerability when she isn’t stuck in a neurotic ring of Nancy’s self doubt. While there are swings of emotions on display, it’s the subtler notes of their performances that do the heavy lifting.

Like many films in recent memory, Good Luck… does feel like it misses some beats in the balance of what it wants to say, but it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of watching Thompson and McCormack romp around in more ways that one.

Final Grade: B-

Check out more of Matthew’s article. 

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