STARRING: HARRY DEAN STANTON; DAVID LYNCH; TOM SKERRITT; RON LIVINGSTON
DIRECTED BY: JOHN CARROLL LYNCH
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
The recent passing of Harry Dean Stanton only makes his final film- Lucky, that much more special. Before the legendary character actor, of films such as Alien, Paris, Texas, and Pretty in Pink had passed away, the new film from first time director John Carroll Lynch, was a beautiful tribute to an actor that deserved his moment in the sun. Now, Lucky will leave audiences with a bit more to hold onto, in a beautiful encapsulation of work that celebrates a character enjoying the twilight of his life. Lucky will make you laugh, contemplate the afterlife, cry, and leave you smiling bright. We are so very Lucky to have a film like Lucky.
It begins with the man in a cowboy hat named Lucky (played by Stanton), he is all alone in a one-bedroom home. He wakes up, does his morning workout, and lights up his first cigarette of the day. Living in a small desert town, Lucky enjoys to see the various people he knows. He says hello to Bibi (Bertilla Damas) at the general store, then saunters over to his favorite diner in the morning, enjoying his coffee and a breezy conversation with the friendly owner (Barry Shabaka Henley). In the corner of his eye, Lucky sees Bobby Lawrence (Ron Livingston), a life insurance salesmen who views the older man as a possible client. Of course, Lucky wants nothing to do with him, or the thought of death, as he shows off his old & crotchety side. Later in the night he will enjoy a drink in his favorite bar with friends.
It's easy to pass off Lucky as a quaint little film, made by a first time director, but John Carroll Lynch has a complete grasp of what he is saying. Here is a film, written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja, with an actor who has gone the distance in Hollywood. Stanton's work in films like Alien or Repo Men has made him a legend among fans of cinema. His work in Lucky is his greatest of all time. I boldly make that statement without seeing every film he ever made, but Stanton delivers a well-rounded amount of tones, from making us laugh, singing a song in Spanish, making us cry, and ponder about the universe. It's a hell of a way to celebrate his life.
For John Carroll Lynch, his direction is calm, poignant, and well-balanced. There is a unique mixture of styles that reference John Ford's My Darling Clementine, with the old-man having his final run at life. I was also reminded of Jim Jarmusch's 2016 love letter to poetry- Paterson. Of course, he also understands that it's all about his Lucky star. When Lucky's health takes a bit of a turn, it causes him to contemplate his existence. He shares a bit more time at the bar with local friend Howard (David Lynch), who has sadly lost his tortoise President Roosevelt, and bickers with his ex-lover Elaine (the legendary Beth Grant). As irritating as the friends can be, he loves having them in his life, because Lucky knows it's precious.
I may have made it sound as if there is not a lot of plot to Lucky, but this is a movie of gentle beauty. Harry Dean Stanton carries himself with such a grace, I find it hard to not say his work here is Oscar worthy. His passing is a hard one to accept, but if his ride off into the sunset is final, at least we have captured this moment in time where we can remember how Lucky we were to have the great Harry Dean Stanton in our lives.
Written by: Leo Brady