Two people in their underwear sit on a hotel bed and talk

Movies About Noises and Consequences, 2022

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande


I realized at some point about a year ago that I should continue the biographical essays. The title of the series required modification, so I’ve removed the 40. However, I used a “40-movies-” HTML tag in the hyperlinks for the series, so I kept that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


2022 was another year in transition. Life is continuous reversion to entropy. Who knew?!  (Everyone. Everyone knew. — Ed.) I finished my software development degree program and immediately moved into looking for jobs. Attaining a second degree would make available more lucrative work and allow a wider net to be cast. I found this to be partially true as the year wore on and I spoke to career services at the college.

I could cast a wider net, of that I was certain. I scrolled through job site search results and found lots of jobs for which I could apply. But the lucrative ones were still out of reach. I had no work experience in IT and did not pursue certifications as I was taking courses (huge regrets on that one), and I had an associate’s degree. The coding jobs that I wanted needed more coursework and more experience in coding languages that I didn’t learn in college. My advisor suggested that I transfer to a four-year school to get a bachelor’s in IT should I want to continue in this career path. This went against my entire plan: I already spent a year-and-a-half on this degree and, after applying to Penn State, I learned that nearly zero of my courses would count toward the degree program as anything other than general credits. So despite having a bachelor’s and an associate’s, it would be roughly three years to attain the second bachelor’s. I couldn’t be out of the workforce for that long. And panic set in as I counted the years… applying for entry-level coding jobs at 45 or 46 years old, competing against 22-year-olds who had less debts and would be more tolerant of bad working conditions?

I couldn’t justify the time debt nor the cost, and I didn’t have enough education to get any IT jobs above entry-level help-desk roles (and one interview with a tech repair company made it clear that I might be undereducated for even that). So I slunk back into publishing.

That’s how it felt at the time, in that moment of despair. Writing now, at the ass end of 2023, I’m less maudlin about my career path. I went into publishing because of my love of the written word and because I’m good at it. I stayed in the field because my brain is very good at finding inefficiencies and errors. And I am back in the field actively because it’s enjoyable. I don’t make a cent off of this site; I do this because I love it.

So 2022 closed with me in a nebula of self-doubt, anxiety, fear about my aging body (I had surgery which required six months of recovery. I didn’t mention that one!). Is there a better film in 2022 — or in any year — than Good Luck to You, Leo Grande for addressing these fears?


Two people in underwear lay on a white duvet. The woman is leaning on her hand and seems pensive. The man is touching his face and grinning


Nancy (the brilliant Emma Thompson) is retired and widowed: possessing even one of those labels will cause one self-reflection and insecurity. She acknowledges that she has regrets, including that she was never sexually satisfied with her deceased husband, who was her only sexual partner in her entire life. She has never had an orgasm and has never done various sexual activities. She wants these things and hires a sex worker to aid her.

Enter Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack), an entirely professional, warm, and charming sex worker who hears Nancy’s requests, her insecurities, and her fears, and promises to help her in addressing them.

Other than a scene in a hotel bar, the entire film is within a high-end hotel room, and entirely between these two characters. What follows could be called a battle of wills, I guess? That is inaccurate. There are moments of tension, but it is the kind of tension that arises in talk therapy when a nerve is struck or a realization is attained. Leo is organized and experienced, and he knows that his job is as much a confessor or therapist as he is a sexual partner.

Nancy is a ball of emotions: shame (at hiring a sex worker), embarrassment (at her age and inexperience), anger (at her regrets), glee (at meeting this unbelievably charming man), lust (same), excitement (that she calls off of the shots), and apprehension (that her ultimate goal of an orgasm will be unrealized). Leo has a veneer of calm but the interplay between the characters cracks this veneer. Good Luck is an incredible two-hander and I cannot recommend it enough. I’ve seen several films recently with similar structure (one location, two actors) but this one felt the most polished: warm lighting, an incredible design aesthetic, two beautiful people who nail every emotional beat, and story beats that feel organic to each moment.

I won’t spoil the film any further. Each moment in the story is a moment of discovery for Nancy, and the viewers are right there with her. Go and see the film.

There are rarely easy fixes in life, and wounds we’ve held the longest take time to mend. It is good to self-reflect and think about what you want to fix, and just as important to think about how you plan to fix it.


I turned 40 in December 2021. To commemorate the milestone, I wrote 40 short biographical essays pertaining to a movie per year of my life, and am now adding a new entry each December in the increasingly inaccurately named 40 Movies About… series.