Lucky – VIFF 2017 Review

There’s probably no one reading this review who isn’t aware of the recent passing of iconic American actor, musician, and singer Harry Dean Stanton (Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather Part II, Paris, Texas), who at 91-years-old, leaves us all with a fitting, lustrous, and touching adieu in John Carroll Lynch’s generously incidental comic drama of valediction, Lucky.

Our eponymous hero Lucky (Stanton), is an aging, beloved, and nonconforming man about town who spends his time smoking, strutting, socializing, sipping milk, doing a strict daily yoga regimen, all while grooving on the full life as only he knows how to. At 90, Lucky may be outspoken, atheistic, and largely opinionated, but that in no way means he’s close-minded, curmudgeon-y, or devoid of spiritual belief and practice.

The middle of nowhere desert town that Lucky calls home is populated by a number of peculiar, personable, and appealing folks of the sort it’s a joy to get to know. There’s Howard (David Lynch), who has a soft-spoken affinity for, amongst other things, his 100-year-old pet tortoise named President Roosevelt; Elaine (Beth Grant), the proprietor of Lucky’s favorite waterhole and something of a raconteur; Dr. Christian Kneedler (Ed Begley Jr.) who regularly marvels at Lucky’s banter and vinegar; and there’s also Bobby Lawrence (Ron Livingston) a life insurance legalese that’s determined to get in Lucky’s good books.

Lynch’s film, also his impressive directorial debut, is an alternately humbling and hilarious experience, predominantly driven by dialogue, and monologue, but never in a way that’s ostentatious or overdone. We quickly grow to love Lucky and the equitable rogues he rolls with, and even though it’s certainly a fitting capsheaf for Stanton’s long and uncustomary career, it never once feels like a one man show.

Sure this is the sort of film where nothing much happens plotwise, but it presents a good-humored, keen, and consistent pearl-on-a-string procession of conjecture and insight. Lucky has its own blush and cadence and as a coda for a beloved artist such as Stanton, we’re the ones who are truly on a streak to have such a plentiful parting gift as this. A rich and rewarding gem.

Taste of Cinema rating 4.5 stars (out of 5)

Author Bio: Shane Scott-Travis is a film critic, screenwriter, comic book author/illustrator and cineaste. Currently residing in Vancouver, Canada, Shane can often be found at the cinema, the dog park, or off in a corner someplace, paraphrasing Groucho Marx. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneScottravis.