Warning: This contains spoilers (but it’s for your own good).
There’s nothing more I hate, as a film and movie lover, than filmmakers who think they’re showing you something provocative when if you peel back the outer layer, you’ll realize it’s something you seen before a thousand times. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is really nothing more than a romcom trying to disguise itself as a case study into sex and relationships.
It’s 2022! I don’t really understand what the filmmakers think they’re doing here. This isn’t Carnel Knowledge and this isn’t Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. This isn’t even Basic Instinct. Even Body of Evidence was more ballsy (no pun intended…well, just a little bit) than this piece of rubbish. I guess they’re thinking that if it involves British people, we’d think it’s something more than what it is.
This movie pulls out every stupid cliche that I can’t believe what the critics saw in this. I guess people it’s because it’s about British folk. Anyway, the plot mainly is set in a hotel room and set over the course of many meetings between a retired schoolteacher and widow, Nancy Stokes/Susan Robinson (Emma Thompson) and a male prostitute, Leo Grande/Connor (Daryl McCormack). Somewhere in this movie, there could have been a good story about two strangers who meet and have sex.
But this isn’t Last Tango in Paris with the roles reversed. That might have been better itself. No, from the minute Nancy and Leo (both are not their real names) meet, they immediately go into romcom mode. And that’s the problem. From the start, Nancy is babbling on about her life and she’s never done this before with a sex worker. She also says that the only man she’s been with has been her late husband. And she’s never had an orgasm.
But what if it had been different. What if she had never an orgasm but had multiple partners? From the start, we’re expecting to empathize with Nancy and believe that Leo is a nice young bloke who will just listen to her rather than get down to business. The script by Katy Brand starts out too quick like it’s Aaron Sorkin fanfiction. I wouldn’t be surprised if this started out as a play before Brand decided to condense it into a movie. It flows too much like a play. But if you’re going to set a movie among two people mostly inside one setting, it better be pretty damn good.
The problem is Thompson isn’t allowed to play anything different than what she’s used to. She immediately comes off as a character like she played in Howard’s End, The Remains of the Day and Sense and Sensibility. These characters are so prim and proper they make the people of Downton Abbey look like members of the Manson Family. This foolish idea that British women aren’t interested in sex makes me laugh. There’s over 67 million people in England. They’re doing a lot of fucking. And I’m sure a lot of women like it.
Sophia Hyde is the director and it’s her only second feature movie. I haven’t seen any of other works but this isn’t good. I’m guessing the critics saw the director, the writer and the lead actress and their minds went into tunnel vision they thought it just has to be good. I went into this expecting something better, but within the first five minutes of Nancy and Leo meeting, I realized they were going to be doing a lot of talking.
Speaking of Sorkin, I’m reminded of his script to Steve Jobs where it seemed you could tell just how pedestrian it was getting when Kate Winslet or someone was constantly coming up to tell him that he needed to be on stage in 15 minutes. You knew this scene was going on longer than it should. There is no surprise or excitement. In this movie, the times they meet seem to drag on, you wish Hyde and Brand showed them having sex to begin during a meeting with and then showed us the aftermath.
This formula gets very boring very quick. I actually had to stop this movie twice and return to it later to finish. Part of the reason is this could have been a very intriquing movie about a sex worker and their client and is this just casual sex or does it turn more intimate. Instead it develops into a psuedo-romcom. Nancy and Leo begin to learn too much about each other. He tells his parents he works on an oil rig in the North Sea. Why lie? And eventually, she learns his real name is Connor and he gets upset and wants to leave, but he leaves his phone and comes back.
And now, we’re in romcom mode. The tense moment in which the characters don’t want to reveal too much about themselves followed by the break-up. So, now you know what follows. They meet up again. And to make it more complicated, they meet in the restaurant lounge where one of Nancy’s former students recognizes her. There’s embarrassment as both Nancy and Leo act like they’re meeting to discuss something other than sexual, but why the fuck is it anyone else’s business?
Finally, we have the most embarrassing moment in which they tell the waitress who happens to be a former student why they’re really meeting. And it’s supposed to be funny, you see, because her former teacher is meeting to have sex. Hardy-fucking-har-har! This scene ruins any type of emotion we might have had for these characters.
Why in the hell do people think woman school teachers don’t have sex? Why do they think that two people with a 25-year age gap have to lie to random strangers or even mere acquaintances when they meet in public? Surely, this wait staff has seen some a lot more freakier hook-ups in their time.
This brings me to my next frustration with the movie. Nancy/Susan is supposed to be 55. It’s 2022! It’s not 1982! Her character would have to have been born in 1967, meaning that she’s a Gen Xer and spent of her formative and young adult years during ther 1980s and 1990s, where women over 30 were beginning to be noticed for their beauty and sex appeal.
Thompson is very beautiful with sex appeal, especially as her hair has turned grey/white. Recently, I watched her in Junior playing a bumbling but brilliant medical scientist. She can handle comedy. And she can handle being the villain as she did in Cruella. But I don’t know why the filmmakers felt she had to be more pompous than Queen Elizabeth.
I hate movies like this. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate movies like this. I hate movies that treat their characters as one-dimensional caricatures. I hate movies that give their actors too much dialogue to say without realizing why they need to say them. I hate movies that really don’t understand their subject matter.
When we finally do see the characters having sex, it’s over and done with so fast. This movie wants us to think it’s being risque and bold for showing Thompson with full-frontal nudity as well as masturbating.
Need I fucking remind you, it’s 2022! Many women in their 50s and 60s are turning to the Internet to show their body and do things that would make Nancy/Susan blush. Check out Instagram or OnlyFans. Go to PornHub, for God’s sake!
Both Thompson and McCormack are good actors and I’m sure if the script wasn’t so pretentious, this might have actually been a great movie. It basically insists upon itself. And I hate movies that insists upon themselves.
Maybe I’m not the right person to review this movie. But if I have to be a middle-aged British woman to enjoy it, I’m sure I still wouldn’t have liked it. This movie is a bunch of cliches and stereotypes and I don’t think it’s worth your time. You could go to any porn website and search for a young woman who gets stuck in a dryer and calls out for her stepbrother to help and it would still be way better than this movie.
What do you think? Please comment.