Film Review: Lucky

Film Review: Lucky

John Carroll Lynch’s film Lucky is a warts-and-all character study of the title character, played by the incomparable Harry Dean Stanton. This film makes no attempt to ingratiate itself, but will find its way into your heart just the same.

We first meet Lucky at the beginning of a day-and his days are all pretty much the same. He does yoga stretches, drinks a glass of milk, smokes the first of many cigarettes, and heads out to the diner for coffee. Then there is his daily crossword puzzle and his game shows, followed by a drink at the local watering hole with his buddies.

Buddies may be too strong a word. Lucky is an extraverted introvert, meaning that he desires a bit of companionship but gets his fill rather quickly. Most of Lucky’s human contacts relate to his daily routines-the cashier at the shop where he buys milk and cigarettes, employees at the diner, etc. There are a number of wonderful small performances from the actors in those roles, including but not limited to Ed Begley Junior, Beth Grant, Ron Livingston, Yvonne Huff Lee, James Darrin, and director David Lynch.

Not that he is incapable of interaction. Lucky seems genuinely fond of his neighbor Howard (Lynch) and commiserates when Howard’s beloved tortoise goes missing. Lucky has lively debates with bar acquaintance Paulie (Darren) about the human soul.

In these debates, atheist Lucky contends the soul does not exist. He is forced to reconsider this position after he suffers a fall. Doctors cannot determine a physiological cause and swear he is fine. However, this disruption in routine is enough to make Lucky start thinking about his eventual demise and how he will meet it. He finds his answer via a random conversation with a fellow WWII vet (Tom Skerritt).

Veteran actor John Carroll Lynch (Fargo) makes his feature debut here, as do screenwriters Drago Sumonja and Logan Sparks. The script, which was written for and about Stanton, even references his Kentucky origins. It is an affectionate tribute to Stanton, though not always a flattering one. He is required to show himself in all manner of poses-in his underwear, shaving-that place artistic integrity over vanity. Stanton rises to the challenge, giving a master class in minimalist acting. Lucky is a fitting valedictory to a highly gifted actor who will be sorely missed.

Theme: Honoring Harry Dean Stanton

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