The most interesting thing about Lucky is the director’s connection to the concept. This is the directorial debut of John Carroll Lynch, a character actor who sometimes has the capability to steal a whole movie with his few scenes. Even if you can’t recall Lynch from his name, the moment you see him appear in films (like Shutter Island and Zodiac), you can’t help but be excited to see what he does with his supporting role.
What John Carroll Lynch has done with Lucky is focus entirely on a bit-part who would usually be found filling in the background. The entire film holds its focus on Lucky (Harry Dean Stanton), a physically feeble yet headstrong old man who smokes like a chimney. His life in Arizona follows a routine: he starts the day with exercises and a glass of milk, shuffles over to a local diner to fill out his crosswords, walks some more, watches his game shows, and meets up with conversational barflies before going to bed. He’s become enough of a regular personality for his community to recognize him and refer to him on a first name basis, and people are always interested in what he has to say. These social moments take Lucky on existential trips as he chats and debates about his perception on life.
If Lucky sounds dry, then the film has succeeded. It’s deliberately mundane to portray the comfortable regularity of Lucky and his love/hate relationship with his current standing – he misses how life used to be, but he’s content with his dry routine. The late Harry Dean Stanton, in one of his final roles, has a remarkable screen presence. He has such control over the audience that he can make movie goers anticipate Lucky’s next move despite the obvious nature of the story and character.
The audience, naturally, follows the tao of Lucky. We feel welcomed when we meet a daily acquaintance, and our interest grows when a new face arrives. The film feels thin at times as it wades in silence or stalls to find context within its static narrative, but Lucky is a nuanced wash that usually finds a good reason to keep its viewers tuned in.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie