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“Brave” is a word that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to acting, often when a performer — particularly a woman — dares to look unattractive on screen. Think Charlize Theron in Monster, Jennifer Aniston in Cake, and even Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones. Well, those ladies are all cowards compared to Emma Thompson, who boldly bares it all, literally and lovingly, in Sophie Hyde’s intimate drama Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.

Beautifully written by Katy Brand, the film introduces us to two characters: widow/former teacher Nancy Stokes (Thompson) and handsome young escort-for-hire Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack). They meet when Nancy, fed up with wondering what she’s been missing out on for so long, hires Leo to help her find sexual satisfaction for the first time in her life. She knows what she wants, but wanting it and getting it are entirely different things, and at first she’s very nervous around Leo, full of insecurity and self-doubt. He’s patient and kind, reassuring and confident, never wavering in his message to her: She is deserving of passion and fulfillment.

It takes a long time, but eventually Nancy (though it turns out her name isn’t really Nancy) starts to believe Leo (though it turns out his name isn’t really Leo). Over the course of three meetings/sessions, the two discuss everything from legalizing sex work to the rewards — or lack therof — of marriage and parenting. They test each other’s boundaries and beliefs and expose each other in every possible way. And they have sex. Lots of it.

But Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is never gratuitous or exploitative. Rather it’s empathetic, complex, and bracingly honest. It celebrates desire, connection, and love for both yourself and others. It assures viewers that life is definitely not over in middle age, and it encourages seeing beauty in everyone you meet. By the time Thompson stands naked in front of a full-length mirror, examining herself with a small but clearly appreciative smile, you’ll want to stand up and cheer — or, better yet, do the same yourself.– Betsy Bozdech

Team #MOTW’s comments:

Loren King Nudity and sex may bring the curious to Good Luck to You, Leo Grande but many viewers will be surprised to be moved more by the touching emotional journey that the characters take. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, about a middle aged woman’s sexual awakening, rests entirely on the performances of its two leads who elevate the premise to a tender tale of affirmation and self-acceptance. Daryl McCormack as Leo, a hunky sex worker and, especially, Emma Thompson as Nancy, the uptight widow who pays for his services, bring more introspection and nuance to the frisky material than one might expect. Read full review.

Sherin Nicole Due to its gorgeously glib leading man and a leading lady who seeks connection through afternoon delights, you might imagine Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a study in awakening sensuality. You’d be right and yet what writer/creator Katy Brand and director Sophie Hyde want to talk about is freedom—from being defined by others, from the past, and from the hurt we’ve caused or continue to carry. This cheeky but vulnerable stageplay-styled film certainly gets the conversation going, and if you can find better mouthpieces than Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack you’d just be showing off. Wouldn’t you? The characters they portray are beautifully broken and their onscreen duet is magnetic in its dissonance. As Nancy and Leo reach for revelation, on equal footing, we wonder if it might be beyond their grasps.

Nell Minow: Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack show us that the more we try to protect ourselves from pain, the more we separate ourselves from the only kind of intimacy that makes use feel seen, loved, and home. The performances themselves are a gift of intimacy from the actors as they bring touching vulnerability to the story.

Leslie Combemale Instead of My Dinner With Andre, the deceptively simple conversation between two men that goes to deep, meaningful places, imagine My Sex With Leo. Like My Dinner With Andre, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is full of talk (with a little sex thrown in), but becomes incredibly meaningful, layered, and ultimately life-affirming. This is all within the context of sexually unfulfilled widow ‘Nancy Stokes’ (a never better Emma Thompson) hiring sex worker ‘Leo Grande’ (up-and-coming Irish actor Daryl McCormack) to take him through the sexual paces on a list she’s put together of sexual experiences. She is a retired teacher and mother of two grown, seemingly needy children. She reveals early on that she’s has never had an orgasm. He presents himself as a professional with a job to do, a job he does well. Nearly the entire film takes place in one hotel room, and through their interactions and intimate conversations they are both changed in profound and fundamental ways. Read full review.

Jennifer Merin Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, starring the ever grand Emma Thompson and, as Leo Grande, the very charming Daryl McCormack, is a thoroughly engaging two-hander about ‘Nancy Stokes,’ a staid middle aged retired school teacher who wants to experience an orgasm before she dies. In fact and fantasy, ‘Nancy,’ a recent widow, has got a sexual bucket list and she is determined to get every item on it done — not by G-d! or by George!, but by Leo, the endearing for-hire stud muffin. With Sophie Hyde’s brilliant direction of screenwriter Katy Brand’s exquisitely nuanced characters fleshed out by the daring and dazzling duo of Thompson and McCormack, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a scintillating mix of humor, compassion and pathos — a sex-positive scenario from a feminist point of view. Glory be!!!

Sandie Angulo Chen: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is an intimate, play-like dramedy about Nancy (Emma Thompson) a retired widow who hires Leo (Daryl McCormack), a young sex worker to help her have the sexual experiences she was denied during a passion-less marriage. Director Sophie Hyde and writer Katy Brand opt for a layered, sex-positive story that’s more about connection and conversation than titillation. Yes, Nancy and Leo have sex, but this isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey. Set in the same hotel room across multiple sessions, the movie explores how the two approach their time together, discussing everything about the ethics of sex work to the importance of loving your body. Thompson and McCormack are riveting portraying their characters’ many contrasts – she’s older, White, anxious, and hesitant, he’s young, biracial, patient, and encouraging. There’s humor to proceedings but also depth, and eventually a candor and sex scenes that benefit from the female gaze. A thought-provoking and memorable film about the power of pleasure.

Liz Whittemore Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is magnificent with a whip-smart script and fabulous performances. Daryl McCormack is charming, sensual, and immediately puts the audience at ease. There’s something about his presence that is calming and elegant. You’re drawn to him. He gives a flawless and exceedingly nuanced performance. Emma Thompson is sheer perfection. Watching her work is a pleasure, no pun intended. She astonishes me with her choices. They are so organic that I often forget she’s acting. She carries a universal vulnerability that speaks directly to the audience. Read full review.

Cate Marquis Emma Thompson stars as a by-the-rules middle-aged widow called Nancy, who takes the uncharacteristic step of hiring a handsome young sex worker named Leo (Daryl McCormack), who is more a male version of a call-girl, in her quest for something she has never had, an orgasm, in director Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. You may think you know what to expect, but instead there is more depth and discussion, about sex workers, sexual fantasies, changing attitudes and expectations, than bedroom romp in this thoughtful, thought-provoking British drama.


Title: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

Director: Sophie Hyde

Release Date: June 17, 2022

Running Time: 97 minutes

Language: English

Screenwriter: Katy Brand

Distribution Company: Fox Searchlight/Hulu


AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Sandie Angulo Chen, Betsy Bozdech, Leslie Combemale, Marilyn Ferdinand, Pam Grady, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Sherin Nicole, Liz Whittemore, Susan Wloszczyna

Previous #MOTW Selections

Other Movies Opening This Week

Edited by Jennifer Merin

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).