Emma Thompson shows the frailty of her tormented soul in “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” a comedy tinged with pathos that is streaming on Hulu. Set almost entirely in a hotel room, the movie’s emotional depth deserves the most attention.
Thompson’s play begins with Nancy, a middle-aged woman who has lost her husband, meeting Leo Grande for the first time. She is clearly nervous about what she will do when she meets him, but he calms her down and assures her that everything will be fine. As they get to know each other better during their conversation, we learn that Nancy is a teacher who used to be married to a man named Frank. She wants to know exactly how this arrangement works and asks Leo a lot of questions about his business. Eventually, Leo becomes frustrated with her questions and stops answering them.
Written by Katy Brand and directed by Sophie Hyde, “Leo’s Great Adventure” overcomes claustrophobia in the scenario and framing through the remarkable performances, including McCormack, an Irish actor perhaps best known stateside for “Peaky Blinders.”
The movie largely avoids being jokey or overly sentimental about its central topic: A woman’s journey to find self-acceptance. And although the “body positivity” element is certainly a marketing hook, audiences who dwell on that may miss the underlying themes of regret and missed opportunities.
The fact that “Leo Grande” appeared at the Sundance Film Festival before being distributed by Hulu (the film is produced through a sister company of Disney, Searchlight Pictures) makes sense given its small-scale nature, but one hopes that Thompson’s work isn’t overlooked or forgotten because of the understated nature of the material and the venue. So good luck to you, indeed, “Leo Grande,” as well as to Nancy and Leo (again, not their real names).