Good luck finds sex saint Leo Grande

The awkward title Good Luck to you, Leo Grande provides no clue to the movie’s subject, a tricky concept many never want to face. That topic? The sexuality of post-menopausal women…making it hard to come up with any alternative and alluring title. Something like “full frontal Emma Thompson” might ring a bell for those familiar with the film’s publicity, but the movie offers much more than that brief moment towards the end.

With a script by Katy Brand and direction from Sophie Hyde, the movie takes a woman’s perspective to the aging process. Realizing their story contains the antithesis of box office fodder, the women keep production elements simple, using few characters and locations. This puts a huge load on performers—Thompson and Daryl McCormack of Peaky Blinders. Thompson in particular gives the movie its heft, playing a widow who hires a sex worker so she can discover what she missed during her decades as a wife who never found any pleasure in the bedroom. By luck or movie contrivance, she finds a gorgeous, empathetic man she accurately describes as a "sex saint."

Bouncy music lightens the tone, and Thompson blends serious issues with her witty manner so that the movie qualifies as a sex comedy. Funny at times, the film brings up valid conflicts and good questions that deserve consideration. Talky in its early sequences, the story’s ultimate success requires sex scenes, slightly graphic but without any sense of exploitation. Director Hyde gets credit for this, but Thompson makes it all work by jumping in without restraint, giving a top performance in a career that includes Oscars for acting in Howard’s End and adapting one version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

Thompson’s

ultimate acting moment in Leo Grande requires something difficult for almost any woman—staring at her body with acceptance and appreciation. Not as easy as it sounds, and the well-crafted moment reflects careful planning and posing, with Thompson crediting portraits of Eve by the painter Albrecht Durer. The result defies mass media expectations of poster girls, instead providing a rare cinematic opportunity to deal with reality.

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