Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Movie) written by Katy Brand; directed by Sophie Hyde; starring Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack;
with Isabella Laughland in a small role.
We start with a woman arriving in a hotel room, casing the joint, checking her appearance in the mirror, adusting her
skirt, changing into more glamorous shoes, fussing with her hair. Clearly a nervous, unsettled woman. Turns out she's a retired
school teacher and a widow. She is waiting now for a male sex worker to introduce her to some of the excitement that has been
missing from her life so far.
The main thing about this movie is that it's a tour de force for one of our greatest film actors, i.e. Emma Thompson.
I can't think of anyone who has ever conveyed such a variety of conflicting emotions on screen. The woman she plays is the
personification of ambivalence; she clearly knows what she wants but she's afraid of getting it. In minutes, she flitters
from hope to anxiety, to indignation, to vanity, to propriety, to awkwardness, embarrassment, politesse, distaste, repugnance,
regret and resignation. Every fluctuation is thoroughly believable, real and convincing. This woman is letting us see all
the vicissitudes of emotion that we strange humans are capable of experiencing, even if we try to tell ourselves that we're
relatively stable and reasonable.
In a lot of ways, this movie follows the pattern of many two-handers for the stage and film. Two people come together
in some extraordinary circumstances and, over the course of one or more meetings in this same spot, come to learn a lot about
themselves and each other. (Same Time, Next Year is one example that comes to mind.) One might expect, then, that the two
people meeting here would go though some remarkable developments of their characters in their interactions with each other.
The woman certainly does. I'm not so sure about the man. Apart from one brief outburst of anger, he seems so ingenuous,
so unfailingly polite, so much the gentleman, so professional and smooth that it's a little hard to believe that he has been
making his living in a trade that you'd think would have a somewhat toughening effect on a person.
Of course, his kindness and his malleability are necessary to serve the film's main point. It turns out to be an almost
blatant commercial for the sex worker industry. If you come to the movie with an open mind on that subject, you'll probably
find the movie utterly satifying, as well as entertaining. If you have some reservations about paid-for sex, you might not
be so comfortable with the movie's message.
Bros (Movie) written by Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller; directed by Nicholas Stoller; starring Billy Eichner and Luke
The promos for this movie made it sound like it was about two men who were discovering that they might be gay and might
be falling in love with each other. Soon into the movie, though, there's no question about the sexual orientation of either
of the men. And, yes, they are fallng in love.
In fact, this is an out-and-out gay rom-com. We get all the highs and lows that come in a straight version of the genre:
the flirtatious beginnings, the rhapsodic togetherness, the misunderstandings, the road blocks thrown up by the world out
there. Apparently, the major difference between a straight rom-com and a gay one is that the latter allow for much more explicit
sex talk; you're hearing things here that you probably wouldn't hear in any other movie outside the porn genre. Except that
they're always said here with affection and rapport.
Billy Eichner, one of the co-writers of the script, plays Bobby, the more out-going and demonstrative of the two men.
Bobby enjoys lots of hook-up sex with no commitment. He hosts a phone-in radio show with lots of frank talk about sex and
he's involved in planning an LGBTQ+ museum in Manhattan. I gather that Mr. Eichner has established a thriving reputation as
a comedian and media personality; one can't help suspecting that he's playing a version of himself here. His in-your-face
humour about being gay provides tremendous verve to the movie. Luke Macfarlane plays Aaron, a well-established lawyer who,
in spite of his cool veneer, is less sure of himself, a bit confused, somewhat torn about personal issues.
The story moves swifly and expeditiously through lots of engaging scenarios. Over and above the kinds of plot twists that
you get in the typical rom-com, one particularly interesting issue comes up here: should a man tone down his gayness in public
to avoid making his boyfriend uncomfortable?