Emma Thompson graces “Leo Grande” with her presence.
A theatrical two-hander, adapted by Katy Brand from her play and directed by Sophie Hyde (“Animals”) the unfortunately named “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” imitates the structure of Bernard Slade’s romantic seventies comedy-drama “Same Time, Near Year”, reducing the timeline to “Same Time, Next Week”.
The always dependable Emma Thompson plays a retired schoolteacher who has never experienced the Big O. She has only been intimate with one man in her entire life and that was her husband who passed away two years ago. The sex in their marriage was of the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am variety.
The movie opens as she waits in a hotel room for a hired gigolo (Irish actor Daryl McCormack from “Peaky Blinders”). Ever the organized tutor, she has a list of goals she wants to attain before it’s too late. For instance, she has never been on the giving or receiving end of oral sex. We then jump ahead at weekly intervals, with scenes set mostly in the same hotel room, as their “relationship” develops.
Turns out that McCormack’s gigolo, who is gorgeous, Black, and Irish (I had flashbacks of Richard Gere in “American Gigolo “and the late Irish singer Phil Lynott from “Thin Lizzy”) is not only extraordinarily understanding but has a backstory of his own. This brings out Thompson’s maternal side as we are informed that her relationship with her two children, a boy, and a girl, is strained.
Thompson is the movie, running through a gamut of emotions from anger, fear, and sadness in their first encounters to moments of sheer bliss as she becomes increasingly comfortable with the arrangement.
Unfortunately, both she and McCormack are limited by the bland script, the bland direction, and the play’s basic set-up which leaves little freedom for character expansion or improvisation.
However, overall, it is worth watching.