GOOD LUCK, LEO GRANDE poster | ©2022 Fox Searchlight/Hulu

GOOD LUCK, LEO GRANDE poster | ©2022 Fox Searchlight/Hulu

Rating: R
Stars: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack, Isabella Laughland
Writer: Katy Brand
Director: Sophie Hyde
Distributor: Hulu/Fox Searchlight
Release Date: July 17, 2022

GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE feels in a way like 2022’s answer to PRETTY WOMAN. It’s not a traditional romance, as such, but it does present a very upbeat view of sex work and that profession’s practitioners, to say nothing of the good it does for the customers.

Nancy (Emma Thompson) has been widowed for two years, a former teacher who has never been with any man except her husband. Despite whipsawing ambivalence, she has booked a hotel room and the services of a young gentleman who goes by the name Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack).

At first, Nancy is so uptight that we’re afraid she may implode or explode. Leo demonstrates the skills of a gifted psychotherapist long before he gets anywhere near what he’s actually been prepaid to do.

However, GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE isn’t one-sided. Writer Katy Brand takes her time, but gets around to what drives Leo, as well as Nancy’s development. By the end, we feel we’ve gotten to know, and like, both of them very well.

Thompson can play repression, suppressed hysteria, and rueful self-awareness with the best of them. McCormack understands that the largest part of what Leo is selling is gentle self-confidence and an ability to put customers at their ease – but that there’s more under that carefully curated surface.

Sophie Hyde’s direction and Brand’s well-structured script maintain elements of suspense through the levity. Although this is primarily a two-hander, we don’t feel trapped, because the company is enjoyable and the banter entertaining.

However, rather like Nancy feels a need to make lists of what she wants to accomplish, Brand has a number of specific points she wants to make. The actors present them smoothly, as things their characters would actually say. Still, there are times when observations seem more instructive than organic.

While GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE and the characters discuss their age disparity at length, one topic that doesn’t come up (understandable – it would be difficult to work it in) is the gender dynamic. This is something that has a lot more weight than this review is prepared to carry.

However, brief reflection suggests that if both main characters were male, the material might play much as it does here. If both characters were female, there might be a whole host of additional issues involved, as there might if either or both were non-binary. If the client was an older man and the worker a younger woman, although this is common in real life, the characters’ motives might be exactly the same, but it would likely feel quite different to many viewers.

Audience members likely to react strongly one way or another should be advised that there is eventually sexual activity that feels neither sexy nor cold. It is instead respectful and exploratory, but nonetheless definitely R-rated (i.e., don’t watch with any folks young enough to require explanations unless you’re prepared to provide them).

GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE has a lot on its mind. With Brand’s amiable dialogue, Hyde’s spry direction, and stellar turns by Thompson and McCormack, it’s mostly fun hearing what it has to say.

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