Don’t be misled by the title of Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022). It would be more apropos to call the intimate dramedy And Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson since it’s all about the protagonist played by Dame Emma Thompson.
Like the fictionally middle-aged adulteress made famous by a 35-year-old Anne Bancroft in The Graduate (1967), Thompson’s 55-year-old widow has an affair with a younger man. But instead of seducing her college daughter’s self-centered boyfriend, this Mrs. Robinson hires an affable and handsome young sex worker (Daryl McCormack).
Available on Hulu, the R-rated flick follows the odd couple as they rendezvous on four different occasions in the same hotel room. In this respect, the structure is similar to cinematic romances of the past, such as Plaza Suite (1971) with Walter Matthau and Maureen Stapleton; Same Time, Next Year (1978) with Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda; and Breaking Up (1997) with Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek.
Granted, the brief encounters in Leo Grande can seem like psychiatrist sessions since the lovers exchange more confessions than bodily fluids. No doubt, Katy Brand’s dialogue-heavy script could have used a boost in visuals and music from director Sophie Hyde. Fortunately, the stagey film has two excellent leads to do the heavy lifting.
While McCormack proves he’s as gifted as he is gorgeous, Thompson’s full-frontal portrayal is a real scene stealer. The veteran thespian is at her vulnerable best; a high bar considering her Academy Award-winning turn in Howards End (1992) and Oscar-nominated performances in The Remains of the Day (1992), In the Name of the Father (1993), and Sense and Sensibility (1995), for which she won Best Adapted Screenplay.
Thompson also deserves accolades for Leo Grande. Not only does the 63-year-old convincingly depict a post-prime woman taking control of her sexuality, she bravely lets go of body shame in an authentic and empowering way. Coo, coo, ca-choo, Mrs. Robinson!
Since posting, both Thompson and McCormack were nominated for British Academy Film Awards.