GFF18 Review: Lucky

The late Harry Dean Stanton leads Lucky – which has sadly become his final lead role. Lucky marks actor John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut and the blossoming filmmaker wears his influences on his sleeve – and in his cast, with David Lynch taking a supporting role here. Lucky stands as an assured, undeniably impressive debut from Lynch and serves as a testament to the subtle brilliance of its lead actor.

Logan Sparks
and Drago Sumonja write Lucky, the tale of a ninety year old atheist based in a small US desert town. The fiercely independent pensioner’s routine is shaken when he falls, forcing him to consider his own mortality, loneliness and human connections.

Cinematographer Tim Suhrstedt captures the purgatory-like quality in the desert setting as Lucky navigates dusty streets, small town Latin businesses, and a very Lynchian dive bar (presided over by Beth Grant’s Elaine and James Darren’s Paulie – the latter’s first role in sixteen years). We become part of Lucky’s daily routine observing the mundane experiences of a ninety year old man. Yet after his fall, the prickly loner experiences something of a crisis – evaluating his place in the grand scheme of the world and with these experiences gaining newfound impact.

Lucky, unable to gain a diagnosis from his doctor (Ed Begley Jr.), begins to reflect on life with memories being triggered by his collection of eccentric friends at the bar – including David Lynch’s Howard (going through his own crisis when his tortoise, President Roosevelt goes missing). An experience with a fellow war veteran (Tom Skerritt) provides further philosophical human connection and spirit to Lucky, whilst a joyful appearance at a Mexican birthday party provides a reminder of life’s beauty.

Lynch’s directorial eye is light and unobtrusive, allowing his actors room to manoeuvre and bring their own eccentricities to the roles. Harry Dean Stanton’s performance delivers an opaque mystery as the prickly Lucky contemplates mortality, balanced with the pleasures he gains in life – primarily that of human connection (despite his initial resistance). In reflection, Lucky cleverly reveals the subtle beauty in these moments of interaction that wind through the title character’s otherwise mundane daily routine. Free from schmaltz and insincerity, Lucky’s calm pace and tone lend it a quiet impact that helps us contemplate our own relationships, spirituality and the impact we have on the world.

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