Mortally Life Affirming: Our Review of ‘Lucky’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 05, 2017
Mortally Life Affirming: Our Review of ‘Lucky’

No matter our walk of life, none of us can stay on the trail forever…

With Lucky we get a sage and meditative look at a life lived and the trappings of age that we all eventually succumb to thanks to a brilliant and sensitively knowing performance from an acting icon that we’ve recently lost and a debut directorial effort from someone I can only hope that we hear more from.

It’s the spiritual journey of a 90 year old atheist (Harry Dean Stanton) and the quirky and eccentric characters that exist in orbit around in him in his small, middle of nowhere desert town.  The fiercely independent Lucky has outlived and out smoked the bulk of his contemporaries and he finds himself at the precipice of his own existence and now while staring down his own mortality, he goes down the rabbit hole of self discovery to find the one thing that he’s been lacking this entire time; personal enlightenment.

Every once in a while something so heartfelt, tender and honest manages to impact us in the realm and the art of storytelling and with Lucky we get something so self assured, and beautifully brilliant that you just can’t help but soak up every damn minute of it since combinations like this don’t get pulled off all that often.

A veteran character actor for years, John Carroll Lynch finally gets his first directorial project off of the ground and it is something special to behold.  Rarely do we get first time directors who are so confident in their visual styling’s while still allowing for the actors in his frame to truly dominate the narrative with results that can only be described as a stunning ‘pad de deux’ of direction as the visuals and the characters beside them become one.

In many ways this almost feels like an existential western as we have a man who isn’t looking for one last big score before he rides into the sunset yet we are faced with a man whose outwardly wondering why the hell he’s still around in the first place and it kind of scares him.

Carroll Lynch allows this journey to be the right balance of just a little gonzo with the right sprinkling of genuine human compassion and tenderness making it feel like everything and nothing at exactly the same time, which in many ways is the pure essence of the human experience.  This is a world with a man who for 90 years has only ever believed what has been placed in front of him and seen by his own two eyes who now has to make peace with the fact there’s another place waiting for him and that there is nothing wrong with that, because we all have to embrace it one point or another.  The film embraces the passion of life and the surreal nature of the afterlife all at the same time and it wouldn’t have worked without a stunning swan song from the film’s leading man.

In a role conceived and written for him, Harry Dean Stanton delivers a performance with such subtlety and nuance to it, that it actually runs the risk of being overlooked.  While he may not have known that this would be his last film due to passing away after production you can’t help but feel like he knew this was his professional swan song, despite having at least one more film in the can and coming out soon.

Shot while he was 89, Harry Dean Stanton gives simply one of the most knowingly beautiful performances put to the screen in recent memory.  He was one of the great actors of our lifetimes because he was the kind of performer who could always get himself to the emotional core of the character while always being distinct and resonant in so many ways as he casts a spell on the screen that is so full of life for someone who genuinely looks like he might keel over at any minute.  It’s rare to give a performance that is a little bleak and a little maudlin while keeping a certain joie de vivre about itself, but Harry Dean does that here, and that’s why he’s just so damn good in this.

With a cast of supporting players that were undoubtedly called in as favors with the likes of Ron Livingston, David Lynch, Ed Begley Jr, Tom Skerritt, Barry Shabka Henley and many others existing in the orbit of Lucky simply to jump in and out and add character and richness to a life that we see Lucky learning that he was fortunate and blessed enough to experience.  They all work in service of Stanton and it plays out to a tee.

This is proof positive and a testament to all involved with Lucky that life is best for the living and we’d better live it as well as we damn well can and it makes for what has to be the best debut and simultaneous swan song in the history of modern cinema.

This post was written by

David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.