Good Luck to You, Leo Grande stars Emma Thompson as a retired, widowed religious education teacher in her sixties who books sessions with a sex worker (Daryl McCormack) because, for the first time in her life, she would like to experience good sex. Her husband was a roll on, roll off sort of fella, she’s never slept with anyone else and her body, she says, ‘feels like a carcass I’ve been dragging round all these years’. You have to admire her courage. I don’t think I’d even have the courage to book a hotel room for two hours in the afternoon. I’d probably pay for the night so that no one would know. Or would a week be safer?
Written by author and comedian Katy Brand, and directed by Sophie Hyde, this is a riveting film and an important one. Thompson, as you’ve probably already read, appears fully naked, at 63, which is practically unheard of. I can’t recall the last instance. Maybe Anne Reid in The Mother 20 years ago? And, generally, older women are the least developed characters in any script, because God forbid they should have needs and wants or be allowed to still be working on who they are. But this peers into all that with such sure-handed fearlessness it’s wholly impossible to look away.
In the opening sequence Nancy (Thompson) is already in the hotel room she’s bravely booked for two hours, awaiting the knock on the door. She catches sight of herself in the mirror and is dismayed. By the time the knock comes, she is a bag of nerves and can’t keep a lid on her panic. She tells Leo (McCormack) he can leave and she’ll pay him anyhow.