Sophie Hyde: Good Luck to You, Leo Grance (2022)
Daryl McCormack and Emma Thompson in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022) | Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Nick Wall

Sundance 2022: Sophie Hyde’s ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’ Is Smart Sexy Fun

The premise of Good Luck to You, Leo Grande may sound crass but it’s actually an exquisite examination of relationship dynamics through clever wordplay.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Sophie Hyde
Genesius | Cornerstone
22 January 2022 (Sundance)

The word for today, class, is ‘concupiscence’. Just in case you don’t have your phone handy, it means ‘lustful desire’. With Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, director Sophie Hyde has crafted an articulate relationship film that’s all lustful desire and no romance. Just two people from different worlds verbally sparring until it’s time to get naked. The premise may sound crass, but it’s actually an exquisite examination of relationship dynamics through clever wordplay. Think Louis Malle’s 1981 My Dinner with Andre, but with more oral sex.

“There are nuns out there with more sexual experience,” laments Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson). Nancy was married to the same man for over 30 years with exactly zero orgasms to show for it. Now a widow for two years, she’s looking to reclaim the passion she so ruthlessly smothered in her youth. But how does a woman in her 60s learn about sex without being traumatized on the internet? She hires a sex worker, of course!

Enter Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack); the immaculate concoction of an Irish accent, chiseled abs, and a Zen philosophy toward sexual enlightenment. He’s unflappable when facing the buzzsaw of Nancy’s rigid moral code and surgically applied judgments. They talk about family, relationships, disappointments, and Nancy’s unending sexual bucket list. “I want to feel a sense of achievement,” she deadpans.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande sidesteps classic narrative structure in favor of four lengthy meetings between Nancy and Leo, predominantly in the same hotel room. This theatrical format might grow tedious were it not for screenwriter Katy Brand’s observant dialogue and the assured performances of Thompson and McCormack. It’s impossible to count the incisive one-liners flying from the painfully repressed Nancy, and Leo defuses all of them with playful grace. As their meetings evolve, the power structure between Nancy and Leo shifts in delightfully unexpected directions.

It’s a sublime pleasure to hear two intelligent characters actually talk to one another; they learn things, challenge ideas and ideals, and maybe lurch slightly closer to self-acceptance. This is easily the most romantic film in years, which is remarkable considering the complete lack of traditional romance. Hyde understands sincere human connection is super sexy… but she also delivers on the naughty bits that viewers will also enjoy.

There simply aren’t female characters like Nancy in film nowadays. It’s worth seeing Good Luck to You, Leo Grande just to experience Thompson’s fearless portrayal of a mature, vulnerable, and capable older woman. There are also plenty of big ideas to ponder about growing old, reclaiming your passion for life, and disappointing those who love us the most. But this is no stuffy chamber piece; it crackles with humor and wisdom. And it’s really horny, too.

RATING 8 / 10
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