WHAT I LIKED: Sophie Hyde's 'Good Luck to You Leo Grande,' is a beautifully human film about two characters growing as they learn from each other.
The premise surrounds a regretful, self-conscious widow and ex-teacher called Nancy (Emma Thompson) who hires a sex worker (Daryl McCormack) so that she can have an adventure with someone other than her loveless husband, and then Katy Brand's script is made up of just four meetings between them in one hotel.
On the one hand, that means we get to see this wonderful breaking down of Nancy's disgust at her own body, and her awkwardness and shame around sex and her decision to hire a sex worker in the first place. But more than that, as the pair begin to open up to each other, we hear how Leo's strained relationship with his mother reflects Nancy's disapproval of her own children (and pupils), and the realisation of that eventually leads her to change her attitudes, and him to start feeling more comfortable with what he's doing.
That's only so transcendent though because, for one, Brand's script is pure genius; deftly combining moments of great emotional sincerity, openness and realisation with humour and guardedness whilst sounding real and naturalistic at every turn. But it's also because it's then brought to life so well by Sophie Hyde as she lets the camera capture the complexities of the characters' emotions through her actors' movements, body language and facial expressions. What's more, it goes without saying that the two leads are fantastic; displaying real chemistry and individual nuance in what are probably the two finest performances of the year.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Stephen Rennick's score is annoyingly twinkly, and occasionally takes you out of the raw honestly of what's on screen.
VERDICT: Sophie Hyde's 'Good Luck to You Leo Grande,' is a beautifully human character study in which two characters reveal truths and grow from one another, and it's one of my favourite films of the year.