COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 37min
STARRING: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack
Grande design: McCormack and Thompson
Emma Thompson’s latest humdinger is a movie made by, and arguably primarily for, women. It’s warm, witty and wise — those three copybook W's — and if its ecstatic preview audience is one to go by, it has a booming future.
Thompson, bless her unswerving empathy, is Nancy, a widow of a certain age who has never had an orgasm and who intrepidly hires a handsome male sex worker (McCormack as Leo) to introduce her to one. When they first meet in an unremarkable hotel room, Nancy is as skittish as a kitten, compelled to push on despite herself. Although decades younger, Leo is calmly assured and ready to rumble. His feel-good energy can’t help but prove contagious: at their second meeting, the lady is all biz, arriving armed with a checklist of “achievable goals.” (Oral sex is up first.)
But while sex is the pot of gold here, it’s in the power of wordplay that director Sophie Hyde and writer Katy Brand’s delineation of intimacy takes flight. As a teacher, Leo is gracious and patient — although not, as it comes to light, without his own personal headaches. His prize pupil, meanwhile, is the whole, irresistible package: funny, vulnerable and filled with yearning. Her admission, “I’m scared — that’s the truth,” is every one of us at any given moment of openness. And when the fun and games lose their self-protective lustre in a random admission that upends the conversation, Nancy and Leo's journey within pulls the curtain on a universal human need to be seen.