Review: Riotously Funny 'Good Luck To You, Leo Grande' Salacious, but Not Gratuitous

by Noe Kamelamela

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday June 17, 2022

'Good Luck To You, Leo Grande'
'Good Luck To You, Leo Grande'  (Source:Searchlight/Hulu)

Written by the riotously funny Katy Brand and starring Emma Thompson, "Good Luck To You, Leo Grande" is salacious, luscious, and generous — but never gratuitous. While the premise could be taken directly from sexytime content for adults (a widow contracts a younger man for a sexual encounter), the actual drama occurs between fleshed-out characters. There is a focus on connection that makes the runtime of nearly an hour and forty minutes fly by.

Irish African-American actor Daryl McCormack plays the titular Leo Grande opposite to Emma Thompson's widow. (Personally, I think quite a lot of younger men would not need money for motivation when it comes to Emma Thompson. That she had to pay for sex required suspension of disbelief, as did trying to think of her as unattractive or lacking self confidence.)

Despite the sometimes-claustrophobic setting of a single hotel room, their chemistry and their interactions provide fertile ground for the many different sidebars about desire, consent, and boundaries that crop up. I am pleased that this film is coming to the U.S. via streaming, although I don't think that we deserve something this nuanced and patient. Instead of well-meaning savior stories or horrifying abuse and human trafficking tales, we are treated to a story where a sex worker is a person. Sex work, in fact, comes off as a humane and somewhat noble profession.

The sex scenes between McCormack and Thompson are not simply filled with desire; frequently there is something else in addition being communicated, layers that Sophie Hyde's direction bring forward. It is a reminder that it is a shame that there are few sex scenes in movies between two unattached adults at all. Often, sex and sexuality are seen as mysterious and powerful forces, but as an audience we get to see sexual behavior as gentle, joyful, sad, ephemeral: in short, all the varied and human things about sex which we rarely get to see on screen.

"Good Luck To You, Leo Grande" starts streaming via Hulu on June 17th.

Noe Kamelamela is a reader who reads everything and a writer who writes very little.