John Carroll Lynch (director)
25 September 2018 (released)
25 September 2018
Harry Dean Stanton takes the lead and title role of Lucky. Directed by actor, John Carroll Lynch, in his directorial debut.
Lucky is the story of a man who finds himself squaring up to death as a result of old age and after collapsing at home. Co-written by Drago Sumonja and Logan Sparks, the latter who was an old friend of Stanton’s, incorporated much of the actor’s personality and his viewpoints on life into the script.
The plot is a loose one and is more of a contemplation on the meaning of life, as the audience is invited to stride alongside Stanton as he carries out his morning rituals, yoga stretches and his daily trips into town to his local diner and bar.
Surreal at times, the film manages to incorporate existential angst, friendship, community and belonging into a tightly constructed feel good package.
Lucky’s character is meticulously rounded. He is moody and defiant, sometimes childishly so, funny and smart. His responses to the situations in which he finds himself, are also pleasingly unpredictable. This is Stanton’s film for sure, but to the Director’s credit, and no doubt Stanton’s pulling power, he is supported by a stellar cast of character actors who deliver a slew of theatrical pleasures with charisma and precision.
Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant and Ed Begley, Jr, all put in fine performances. David Lynch, who cast Stanton in several of his own projects, shines as the quirky Howard, a neighbour who is distraught by the disappearance of his pet tortoise.
Side-stepping mawkish sentimentality around the subject matter of old age and mortality, John Carroll Lynch shows that growing old isn’t for the fainthearted. Lucky, when he is at his most brittle and acerbic, captures well the grit required to keep on, keeping on. Whilst the Director, doesn’t sugar coat the pill when it comes to death, he does reveal the humanity of Lucky’s community, as they reach out to him – whether he wants them to or not.
The production melds contemporary camera cuts with theatrical stagecraft. The lead character is introduced through a series of extreme close up, jump cuts, giving a succinct visual exposition of Lucky the person, long before we see his face. The opening is paced nicely, and the choreography of the camera work is both playful and stylish.
Many of the evening bar scenes have a stage-set feel to them, particularly when characters deliver mini-monologues to the assembled regulars. These moments reflect the small human dramas that are played out, every day and everywhere. A community connectedness is in motion, as characters tease each other or finish off other’s old stories, as if by knowing it, you become part of their life story too.
Additional locations to Lucky’s regular haunts, avoids scenes feeling repetitious. Placing him in settings where he might feel uncomfortable, or like an outsider, the Director is able to create moments of tension and curiosity around how his lead character will respond to his surroundings. A well-executed example of this is when Bertila Damas’s character, Bibi, invites Lucky to her son’s twelfth birthday fiesta; and where Lucky ends up singing a baleful Spanish ballad. Moving and beautifully orchestrated, it is all the more powerful for Lynch’s decision to keep the camera with Stanton until he finishes his song.
A salute to getting old and aging, Lucky is a charming film, that celebrates the ordinariness of life and even more poignantly so, since the actor’s death, the sublime acting talents of Harry Dean Stanton.