By Lori Perkins
So my posse of post-menopausal women have all been watching this Hulu-exclusive film starring Dame Emma Thompson and Darryl McCormick and marveling at Thompson’s “bravery” for showing her naked true self and addressing the usually unspoken subject of older women’s sexuality. This has also been the focus of so many of the movie’s reviews and interviews featuring Thompson (haven’t seen much with McCormick).
But this film is so much more than that.
It is so well-written and acted. Perfect casting. Though we’ve seen pieces of this character played by Thompson (who can ever forget her disappointed wife in Love Actually?) but here she has decided to take control of her unfulfilling life and seek personal knowledge of pleasure with an escort about 30 years her junior. But this is no Pretty Woman (Gere was 20 years older than Julia Roberts in that film). While Thompson’s character (appropriately named Susan Robinson but using an alias of Nancy Stokes to meet with her escort, alias Leo Grande) appears to reveal her vulnerability by explaining that she has never had an orgasm after 32 years of missionary marital sex, what she really finds is her strength to be the empowered woman she didn’t know she could be. Meanwhile, Leo Grande, our handsome millennial escort who seems to have his acceptance of not only his sexual power, but her’s as well as a central conceit of this film, ends up owning and embracing his vulnerability, which makes him stronger as well.
This is a four -act play (were it not written and filmed during the pandemic, I wonder if it might have been a play first) which begins by lulling you into Nancy Stokes’ quest for sexual freedom and ends up ending with freedom for both main characters from moral hypocrisies that held them back from accepting their true selves.
It’s quite a powerful film and statement for our times.