© Wild Bunch/Central

Meine Stunden mit Leo (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande)
U.K. 2022

Opening 14 Jul 2022

Directed by: Sophie Hyde
Writing credits: Katy Brand
Principal actors: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack, Les Mabaleka, Lennie Beare, Carina Lopes

Some film’s effortless, unembellished brilliance take your breath away, and this is one of them. Director Sophie Hyde’s carefully crafted subtle sensitivity with its twist of orneriness, in tandem with Katy Brand’s clever, perspicuous and wry, suggestive screenplay is wonderful. Stellar actors in the lead roles add a stroke of brilliance. Meine Stunden mit Leo promises laugh-out-loud fun, and its thought-provoking insight re gender expectations is empowering.

Two-time Oscar® winner Emma Thompson portrays Nancy Stokes, a rather recently widowed and retired teacher; her relationship with her two adult children is aloof at best. She simply wants to experience what she never has, is nervous as a cat, and highly pent-up. “Not good at waiting for things to happen,” she falteringly adds. Except that she is well-intentioned. Countervailed by Daryl McCormack’s character: Leo Grande likes his work, is wiser than his years, patient with a healthy sense of humor, professionally candid, and kind. He is also a hunk, and takes note of Nancy’s expectations, if somewhat facetiously. During their transactions, their exchanges challenge each other’s perceptions, confusions, stereotypes, and disappointments and regrets. The safety of anonymity, the need to speak openly regarding moral correctness lends itself in the fullness of time to frank discussion.

The chemistry between Thompson and McCormack is delectable, divine, authentic and a pleasure to watch. Amy Hubbard’s casting was inspired. Bryan Mason’s cinematography is revelatory, as well as amusingly observant considering most of the film is spent in the hotel room. Amazingly, Miren Marañón’s non-claustrophobic yet intimate production design, and Fiona Albrow's set decoration has plenty of attention-worthy detailing, just as notice Thompson’s hair/clothing changes during the film. Equally, Mason’s editing is judicious, gently probing, and Stephen Rennicks’ music tunefully, and appealingly apropos.

By film’s end, the surprisingly delightful and enlightening trysts spare neither sex. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, and to Brand and Hyde for this charmingly unique exposé about honesty, respect, and sex in its many manifestations. (Marinell Haegelin)

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