When your time comes, what do you do? Smile.
The late, great Harry Dean Stanton pulled off one last gem in this quietly sobering little indie flick about mortality.Actor turned filmmaker John Carroll Lynch's directorial debut, Lucky, tells the story of a 90 year old atheist who is winding down, ready to die alone. Harry Dean Stanton, just turned 90 himself at the time of shooting, plays the titular Lucky, an ex war veteran whose daily routine of exercises, a walk to town, and an excess number of cigarettes seems to be an endless cycle which he hopes will never stop, but which he knows will.
A tremendous little lead vehicle for Harry Dean Stanton.
Lucky spends most of his time at a bar with his friends (including David Lynch in an unexpectedly vulnerable role), refusing to countenance the existence of God, refusing to accept growing old - he wonders why he inexplicably has a fall; his doctor reminds him of his age - and struggling as the slow realisation of loneliness and impending mortality creeps into his quiet existence.
This surprisingly assured directorial debut is a tremendous little lead vehicle for veteran character actor Harry Dean Stanton, even in his frail 90 year stature still commanding the screen with all the experience of a lifetime in movies (over 60 years) and a fierce determination indicative of a character who just doesn't have anything left to lose and certainly isn't afraid of speaking his mind, even if he's sometimes afraid of facing what's on his mind.
A fine bookend to an expansive career.
A simple film, set in a few locations in and around the Arizona desert, Lucky enjoys it's quiet contemplation, hinting at religious observations and addressing the difficulty with accepting loss of life - most pointedly your own - and difficulty with accepting what happens next (David Lynch loses his pet tortoise, which becomes a beautiful analogy).
Lucky's refusal to accept the belief of others becomes some form of metaphor for observing denial in all shapes and forms, and studying mortality at its most poignant, with a potential acceptance that - given Stanton's own age and unexpected proximity to death - is all the more resonant.
It's even more of a tragedy that Stanton never got to see the film's release. Lucky is a fine bookend to an expansive career of memorable moments, dating back from Cool Hand Luke to Godfather Part II; from Alien to Paris, Texas; from The Last Temptation of Christ to The Straight Story to even a cameo in Avengers. It's well worth checking out.
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