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Sundance 2022: Sharp Stick, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power | Festivals & Awards

As we first meet Sarah Jo, we constantly wonder if she’s going to pull down a zipper from her forehead and reveal her true alien skin. But Froseth has such an earnest grip on the character, and gives her a tangible psychology—her desires and also fears, and her growing understanding of what pleasure matters most. She makes Sarah Jo real. Dunham’s film blossoms into something beautifully strange and brutally honest, sharing its infectious love for Sarah Jo and anyone out there who may feel like her. 

A different and just as significant sexual awakening is experienced in one London hotel room, over the course of multiple meetings, in the charming and ambitious comedy “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.” Directed by Sophie Hyde and written and created by Katy Brand, the film cracks its captivating challenge of presenting two characters in conversation, getting used to each other, dancing around the idea of having sex. That’s about the whole film, and it’s captivating. Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack, stoic and charismatic) is more than ready to give that experience, but he’s been hired by a widower named Nancy (Emma Thompson), who is incredibly trepidatious. Her fear of failing, and of the business in general, threatens to snuff out the tiny inner fire that compelled her in the first place. 

Thompson is sensational in a part that relies on her voluminous nervous energy, as she plays this woman who wants to have good sex but still holds onto a more conservative way of thinking about sex work. She is ashamed that she’s ordered Leo Grande, and is, at first, looking for ways that she’ll put her out of her misery and just leave. He remains soothingly calm, informative, non-judgmental—part of the thrill of “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” is in watching her get some type of therapy, and healthy perspective. He reminds her, as a mouthpiece for this movie that is necessary, about how sex work is real work and proud work. It’s heartening to think how this movie positively presents sex workers, while giving both Nancy and Leo Grande a lot of backstory, as teased in the natural course of conversation that is ambitiously executed. 

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