Harry Dean Stanton was 90 years old when he filmed Lucky, and looks every bit of his age on screen. That he passed away months later before the film was released, underscores the quiet power of the film’s message, and proves that Stanton was The Man. He’s truly iconic, even in near-death. Close up shots of his hands, veined, spotted, and gnarled, and all the more beautiful for it, took my breath away.
Lucky’s days are filled with quotidian routine, punctuated with moments of existential crankiness. We don’t know if his brooding cynicism is lifelong or has advanced with his years, but the tension between his nihilistic inclinations and his latent yearning for meaning in life is the basis of this quirky, compelling character study.
The movie unfolds at an elegantly slow pace, like the escaped tortoise that is both a plot device and a parallel for Lucky. Supporting actors are endearing and memorable. I suspect I’ll be thinking about quotes from Ed Begley, Jr. and Tom Skerritt for a while.
Lucky is refreshingly portrayed as being surrounded by a tight-knit, caring circle. While there is heartbreaking validity to depicting loneliness and isolation in old age, I appreciated that it wasn’t the case in this film. Knowing he had community support kept me from getting mired in pity for Lucky, and helped me stay “in his head” with him, rooting for the peace and enlightenment that does eventually come to him. Rather, that he finally allows. You never doubt that the answers are in him all along.
Really, really short review: For deep thinkers who appreciate subtlety and a little weirdness, Lucky is a sure bet.