David at the Movies: A new kind of Adult Movie

 

A widow ‘of a certain age’, Nancy (not her real name) books a hotel room and a fit young sex worker, Leo Grande (not his real name). Nancy never had an orgasm during thirty-one years of married life, so she has some catching up to do.

Emma Thompson’s performance and Katy Brand’s crisp script convey very believably the awkwardness and nervousness Nancy feels. Take out the sex and nudity (please don’t!) and this could have been written by Terence Rattigan to be played by Deborah Carr back in the 1950s. There is a degree of theatricality to the film, although Thompson gives her all and courageously bares her all (my mum would say “You could see what she had for breakfast”) in a role that most actresses of her generation would have reluctantly turned down. In 2001 I saw Linda Gray nude, at about the same age as Thompson, in a stage version of The Graduate, and Kathy Bates did a naked hot-tub scene with Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt in 2002 – bravissime these ladies!

Daryl McCormack matches Thompson for both bravura and skill as the young escort who’s not as self-confident as he pretends.  More explicit even than Netflix’s Sex Education, this is not a movie for porn perverts, it’s a serious study of desire, disappointment and desperation. Both its stars deserve to pick up awards next winter. And if they make a movie of my novel Lillian and the Italians (please do!), I want Emma Thompson to play Lillian!

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