“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” puts viewers up close and intimate with the two leads as they get, well, intimate.
Emma Thompson plays Nancy, a widow looking to ignite a fulfilling sex life she never had by hiring a sex worker. Almost the entirety of the film takes place in one room with those two characters.
Thompson spoke to the Knockturnal at the red carpet premiere at Tribeca Festival. “That’s the thing that frightened us more than anything,” Thompson said of the limited space they had to work as actors. She continued, “We had to make this so dramatic and so interesting and exciting and dynamic and pleasurable and painful, touching — all of these things. And it has to hold the audience. If it doesn’t hold the audience, if there’s one single moment when the audience goes, ‘you know what, did I leave the oven on?’ — it’s over.”
Director Sophie Hyde also acknowledged the challenges of holding the audience’s attention in such a small and intimate setting. “You realize there’s this challenge of one room trying to make it cinematic, trying to make it pleasurable for an audience and move through that amount of time,” said Hyde. “I think we trusted the script and the actors to try to create something between them in the dialogue and also the movement and the touch that felt compelling.”
Considering the intimate subject nature of what’s on screen, she said the cast and crew took steps to create as consensual an environment as possible. “The ideas of consent that we see on the screen with this are also the way we think about the material and how to work with actors,” said Hyde. “All the time it needs to be ongoing and continuous and enthusiastic consent.”
The film depicts sex between an older woman and a younger man. Through the sexual relationship, Thompson’s character comes to terms with aging, retirement and an unfulfilled sex life. “Personally I think that all the work I’ve ever done has been leading to this movie,” Thompson said. “If I hadn’t done all the work I’ve done I wouldn’t have the skills that I needed.”