Skip to main content

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande Ending: How Emma Thompson’s Hulu Movie Plays With Rom Com Expectations, With An Explanation From The Director

SPOILERS are ahead for the ending of Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, now streaming with a Hulu subscription. 

1990’s Pretty Woman featured a sex worker and her customer forming a relationship outside the transactional, and it is considered one of the best romantic comedies of all time. So when the critically-acclaimed Good Luck To You, Leo Grande follows a widowed school teacher (Emma Thompson) who hires a sex worker (Daryl McCormack), we can’t blame ourselves for half expecting the movie to become a love story, but it never does. There’s a powerful reason why that CinemaBlend spoke to the director about. 

The new Hulu release Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is helmed by Australian filmmaker Sophie Hyde. When CinemaBlend spoke to the director about the movie's ending, she spoke of playing with the rom-com expectations with Nancy and Leo’s dynamic, but ultimately not making it a romantic movie. In Hyde’s words: 

It was really important to me that it was not a romantic story, that they were not gonna fall in love also because it just sold a lie that the only important relationships in our lives are ones that go forever and are romantic. And yet there are all these significant moments that could be fleeting or seasonal or long term that are crucial and important and change us and that isn't about romance and that are not forever. I like to see those characters on screen, because I think it's important to recognize that anybody that you could meet could shift and change you and open up your expectations of them.

With Leo Grande, the filmmakers sought to depict a relationship that is about intimacy rather than it being a romantic story. When Nancy meets Leo Grande, she has only had one sexual partner in her late husband, and her experiences with sex have been unenjoyable. As the movie progresses and they meet for multiple sessions in a hotel room, Nancy is able to have a sexual awakening and even orgasm for the first time in her life. Leo Grande helps her feel empowered in her body and gives her the space to finally get comfortable within her sexuality after a lifetime of being shamed and even shaming her classes about it. Hyde continued to speak on the ending: 

I think because we all knew that we wanted it to be that it wasn't a tricky thing, but there were times where we would still play with in the sex montage at the end, we'd play with ideas and things that we were creating, if it felt too lovely dovey, I just went, ‘Ugh, no,’ straight away. I just don't want that, because they like each other, they respect each other, but he's being paid to do his job and that's a really important part of the story and that they leave each other at the end is a really important part. So, we never wanted to feel like they were gonna save each other or they were gonna fall in love. But we did like to play with the expectation of that. There's definitely a playfulness around the ideas of romantic comedy that we lean into at the beginning.

Rather than playing into romantic themes, the movie instead aims to explore a different dynamic with both Nancy and its sex worker character, Leo Grande. For example, Emma Thompson has a powerful nude scene in the film (which she spoke to CinemaBlend about filming too) that speaks to its message of promoting body positivity, especially in a woman’s second act of life. As Nancy learns through her time with Leo Grande, she’s placed so much shame and low worth to her own sexuality and self image. 

Also, Leo Grande depicts a fleshed-out character who doesn’t feed into sex worker stereotypes. Daryl McCormack spoke to sex workers for the role and told CinemaBlend how it informed his character. At the end of Leo Grande, both Nancy and Leo go their separate ways and the movie shows, as Sophie Hyde shared, within that how powerful some relationships can be focused on intimacy for a season, and as an experience that was valuable to the both of them, rather than making it yet another rom-com. Watch Pretty Woman for that story. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.