WarningMight contain spoilers.

Sweet, sexy, moving, and delicate. Halfway through, I was ready to call it one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, I think the conflict of the second half ruins it somewhat, though it’s still a lovely film. I’m entirely on Leo’s side: he establishes boundaries and Nancy ignores them. However, Leo losing his equanimity, coming back, talking about his mother, and so on feels unwarranted and disproportionately vulnerable in light of their relationship thus far. I agree with Paste Magazine’s review:

The film’s more dramatic slides smack of a dishonesty that doesn’t previously arise in the well-handled realism. It doesn’t help that the otherwise lightly styled movie overemphasizes these moments, like when it zooms all the way in on Leo’s distraught face as Nancy becomes self-consciously angry about being given a hard-sell run-around.

The story is also muddled in its resolution. It’s unclear just how Nancy convinces him to meet her again. Her baring her soul to her old student might be cathartic in a sense but it’s also an uncomfortable moment of unsolicited truth. What’s more, Nancy reneges on her promise that she just wanted to see you and apologize. On the other hand, their final union is both joyous and enjoyable from start to finish, and it’s wonderful that she finds her own pleasure in a way that evolves naturally from what has come before.

Daryl McCormack is amazingly charming, but I think it would be easy to overlook a transcendent Emma Thompson. The dance sequence is beautiful, from the music itself to the staging and pacing, and much of that is down to the expressions, particularly how Nancy really permits herself to enjoy it. (It seems the editor would agree with me there.)

The movie has much to say about mothers and children. Not all of it stands up to scrutiny. It’s on surer footing when it talks about sex, pleasure, and the ill effects of repression or demonization of sex work.