Chicago Critics Film Festival: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande Review


Emma Thompson is an actress who can portray all types of characters. She can play a dark book author (like she did in Stranger Than Fiction in 2016) or a quirky, magical nanny (like she did in Nanny McPhee in 2006). Thompson can also play someone seeking true desire as she does in Good Luck to You, Leo Grand where her performance is audacious and grand. In this movie, she is delicate with emotions and fierce with what she wants. The most vibrant part of this role allows her to display her mellow-toned and quiet attitude like she has done in a variety of her other roles. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is different for Thompson, and she delivers a knockout performance like no other. Prepare to be wowed in the twisted scenarios that transpire in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.

Director Sophie Hyde sets Good Luck to You, Leo Grande like it is a series of episodes. The setup reminded me of the HBO series In Treatment in which there are different sessions with different clients on different days of the week. There are different sessions in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, however, each of them involves meeting up with an escort. It is intriguing that the sessions include moments of confusion and feelings of inadequacy, but it is not all that disturbing or raunchy. The subject matter is quite risqué, and Thompson is brave to open her risqué side in this film. Viewers will ponder many questions during her journey as the sessions continue throughout the film.

Thompson is Nancy Stokes, a lady getting close to sixty who is in the mid-life crisis stage of her life. She feels she wants to experience some wild fun in her life and what comes to mind is sex. The main difference, however, is that she is really seeking more connection over sex. She hires a young escort, and his name is Leo Grande, played by Daryl McCormack. Leo works as an escort, and through sessions with Nancy, it turns out to be more than just the usual meetups.  In fact, Nancy starts to see through his eyes the individual Leo himself could be outside his shady career. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, is a journey of lust, disconnect, and awareness which grow as Leo and Nancy engage in their risqué behaviors.

The shy side of Thompson is where her performance is stellar, and the eccentric side of McCormack is where he shines. Leo wants the scenarios to include communication. For Nancy, she wants Leo to be more open about other positives things in his life. The problem is that in the beginning she hired Leo only for sex which leads to the emotions between Nancy and Leo to weave between dramatic scenes. In the end, there is light for both Nancy and Leo.

The shift in the behavior patterns is where Good Luck to You, Leo Grande can sometimes have fragments of disconnection. Thompson’s role transitioned during the movie to the heartfelt side that I know from her other performances. This side of her performance allows the film to be an empathetic journey of figuring out the right path forward. Not only does Nancy move forward with her life, but also helps Leo move forward from the misdirection in his life. The film is witty, funny, touching, and a hard R dark comedy. Despite the risqué scenarios in the film, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is an instant classic that is almost spectacular. Three and a half stars.

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