Candid Cinema

Sundance Film Festival: ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

What humans need more than anything, now more than ever is intimacy. What we are all lacking is a genuine connection with another soul. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, there can be a sense of emptiness, or that ten percent of something that could be lacking. Humans are never fully satisfied and especially in today’s generation, everyone is always looking for the next best thing or is even too afraid to become emotionally attached to anyone. It also doesn’t matter what age you are, everyone is going through their own version of what intimacy and connection means to them. What Sophie Hyde does in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is create a very sex positive and honest conversation about what it means to be truly intimate with someone.

At the beginning of this film we meet Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) who, unfortunately for her, doesn’t know good sex. She is a retired schoolteacher, and is pretty sure she has never had it, but she is determined to finally do something about that. She comes up with a plan, which involves an anonymous hotel room and a young sex worker who calls himself Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack). Leo is confident, dapper, and takes pride in being good at his job. Nancy is incredibly insecure and overthinks every single decision she makes. Due to her age and the social conditioning during her upbringing, sex has never been something that she could openly talk about, let alone engage in. In comes, Leo who is young and incredibly honest when discussing sexual acts with Nancy. As their first meeting unfolds, Nancy and Leo teach each other about different forms of intimacy in order to connect with one another.

What I enjoyed the most about this film was the connection between Nancy and Leo. Many tend to think that being intimate with someone strictly means being sexual with your partner, but it can also hold meaning within deeper conversations. The vulnerability peaks out when getting to know someone through asking those tough questions and creating a level of trust in order to connect with them. The choice to not show the sexual acts at the beginning created a different path for Leo and Nancy, which I appreciated. The screenplay written by Katy Brand touched upon so many things that men and women overthink about, and in Nancy’s case, use humour to explain how ashamed she is of her sexual history.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is such an honest, beautiful film about love, relationships, and intimacy. It’s all about connecting with another person and simply enjoying life. What Hyde teaches all of us is that pleasure is a good thing and is needed in order to live a fulfilling life. You can find pleasure in absolutely anything that brings you some sort of peace or even joy. There’s so much honesty in each conversation Leo and Nancy share that it felt like a therapy session from two different generational perspectives. It’s so well-written and the structure of the film allows each conversation to breathe and make an impact. Thompson and McCormack were delightful and wonderful chemistry that carried the film.

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