“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande”
Metacritic (8/10), Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10)
Sex is one of those topics that many of us still have a lot of trouble not only talking about, but also freely acting upon. So it is for a retired, widowed religious education teacher (Emma Thompson) who wants to experiment and experience much of what she has missed out on most of her life while she still has the chance, a decision she acts on by availing herself of the services of a hunky young sex worker (Daryl McCormack). But, when the time comes to get busy, she finds herself uptight, tongue-tied and unable to let herself go, something her hired gun helps her work through over the course of several sessions together. In essence, he becomes her therapist as much as her gigolo, counseling her on the merits of embracing pleasure and shedding the inhibiting practices of her past, lessons that she, in turn, employs in helping him to resolve issues of his own. The dynamics of this unusual relationship are intimate, therapeutic and often funny, making for a diverse and emotive viewing experience. While director Sophie Hyde’s fourth feature outing can be a tad stagey at times (this vehicle would make a great stage play), screenwriter Katy Brand’s script is generally crisp, engaging and insightful, and the chemistry between the film’s two leads is captivating, especially in the variety of moods involved in their dialogues and interactions. Their performances are outstanding as well, particularly Thompson, who has garnered a well-earned Golden Globe nomination for her fiercely superb portrayal. “Leo Grande” may not have generated much fanfare, but this online release is certainly deserving of whatever attention it receives, serving up a bundle of laughs, heartfelt moments and a fresh perspective on sexuality, one that could potentially have a rejuvenating impact on those in need of reevaluating their views on this topic before it’s too late.