I think this has been out for awhile, and I’m really late on the uptake. Financial issues, what can I say? I’ve never seen a trailer or even heard about it up until I looked up films for the week at theaters that I haunt. But this is certainly getting some high praise, so I might as well kill more than a few birds with one stone, huh?
The story basically looks like it’s about an older man and just sort of being told how old he is and how lucky he is to have lived so long, but he’s both joyous and sarcastic about it.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Harry Dean Stanton in his final role, known for SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (2012), THE GREEN MILE (1999), and ALIEN (1979). In support, we have famed director David Lynch (TV shows TWIN PEAKS [2017 – ongoing] and THE CLEVELAND SHOW [2009 – 2013]), Ron Livingston (THE 5TH WAVE , THE CONJURING , and OFFICE SPACE ), Tom Skerritt (A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING , TOP GUN , and ALIEN), John Carroll Lynch (THE FOUNDER , ZODIAC , and FARGO ), who is also making his directorial debut (Congrats, sir) and Beth Grant (JACKIE , RANGO , and TV show JERICHO [2006 – 2008]).
Co-writing the screenplay are Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja, both making their screen writing debut. Composing the score is Elvis Kuehn, also making his debut as a composer. Finally, the cinematographer is Tim Suhrstedt, known for GET HARD (2015), THE HOT CHICK (2002), and BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (1989).
Overall, I think this is going to be pretty laid back, but pretty good. Hoping for some solid sarcastic comedy, which this movie looks like it has in boat loads.
This is my honest opinion of: LUCKY
The story follows ninety-year-old Lucky (Harry Stanton). He’s kindly old man who wakes up and does his thing everyday. Well, one day, things changes when he falls down in his home. There’s no apparent reason other than he’s just getting older and his legs gave out. As news of this spreads throughout his small hick town, his friends and acquaintances start making a big deal out of it, forcing him to constantly face what time he has left.
I really like this movie. For how simplistic it is, it’s surprisingly heartfelt.
Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like a much darker comedy than it really lets on. I mean, think about it, the story follows an old guy, he has an episode, he doesn’t think that much of it, but then everyone around him starts making a big deal, and in turn, he starts thinking about it more. Kind of like a feature-film version of, “Don’t be nervous, dude! Just don’t freak out!” “I wasn’t nervous or freaking out a minute ago, but now I am!”
Anyway, I’m not in any way familiar with Stanton, but if he’s been as amazing in his previous work as he is in this, then I really wish I did. It feels like a slightly more honest and meaningful movie than THE HERO (2017). Both deal in an older man looking for meaning and tackle their ages, but with THE HERO, I feel like, of course he has to have a young hot girlfriend to make him feel better. Of course he deals with his struggles by smoking weed. While I like the movie just fine, and it’s not like Sam Elliott wasn’t a knockout, but as far as a movie that honestly deals with borrowed time and your number is about to be called, THE HERO feels a little more melodramatic than LUCKY does. With Lucky, he’s a regular dude, and that’s the biggest appeal to me. He lives at home, does his thing, goes where he goes, is kind enough to those around him, but isn’t afraid to bust anyone in the balls, but usually in a funny kind of way. He’s certainly not perfect. I sure thought I saw a hint of sexism in the character, and he does sort of act immaturely when he’s drunk, or in the establishment of a place that has rules that he doesn’t like to follow, but these are the flaws that make for an interesting and very realistic character.
I think one of my favorite bits in the film is after he’s told he’s old and doesn’t have much time left. He’s at home on his couch and he grabs an old picture of himself in a navy uniform and smiles. But then right after, he sets it down on the table in front of him face down. Maybe I’m extrapolating something that really isn’t intended to be there, but I feel like this is where Lucky’s mortality hits him. That young man in the picture isn’t the same man who’s holding the frame. It’s not an acknowledgment of fear, though he does admit his fears later on, but it does seem pretty bittersweet for him. It’s like he knows he lived a long life, but a fulfilling one. In that one look he gives his picture, you can feel the weight of ninety years on his shoulders. I think it’s one of the more powerful moments in the film.
And that tortoise speech… by God, this monologue needs to be up there with the great monologues that theater students will perform in the classroom, and that it’s said by one of our most celebrated directors of all time? Even more special. What’s so special about it? I’ll try not to give too much away (let’s just say Stanton and Lynch were friends in real life), but basically, Howard (David Lynch) is a man who’s upset that his pet tortoise, President Roosevelt, ran away. Yeah, his earlier description of how it must have happened is about as funny as it sounds. But the speech itself can be applied to anyone who’s ever had a pet. You know what? I’m going to paste a link to the scene I’m talking about. Watch it for yourself. It’s really heartfelt and it’s only two and a half minutes long. Don’t worry, it doesn’t give away any particular plot points, or spoils anything, so don’t worry. Just watch Lynch own the screen.
To be perfectly honest, this movie might just be the most perfect send-off for Stanton. A lot of this film seems like it’s a personal letter from himself. Though Lucky may be a fictional character, the character seems to mirror Stanton in more than a few ways. In the film, and in another great scene, Lucky talks to a man in a diner that he identifies as a Marine. The two strike up a conversation about their respective time in the Japan, Lucky as a cook on a ship, and the Marine and what he witnessed on land. I just read on Stanton’s IMDb page that he really did serve in the navy as a cook. Looking back on the scene, I knew it was a phenomenally acted scene, but knowing what I know now… I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any acting there. The camera was just rolling and these two men were pouring their hearts and souls out to each other. It’s powerful stuff, guys.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is as wonderful a film as it could get, and for a directorial debut for the charismatic Carroll Lynch, this is more than just an impressive first. It’s got terrific nuanced acting, fantastic writing, it’s almost perfect. If this really is Stanton’s final starring role, then he went out on the highest note that an actor can go out on: dignified, strong, and hopeful. This is a must-see for this year. As you can probably tell, I highly recommend this. It’s been out for awhile now, so I’m not sure if it’s still out in cinemas (sorry for the delay on this review; personal financial crises). If it is, it probably won’t be out much longer, so go get while the gettin’s still good. If you miss out, wait for it to come out on Blu-Ray, or Netflix, or Red Box. Honestly, it’s worth buying. I recommend it that much.
My honest rating for LUCKY: 5/5