Sam Shepard said of Harry Dean Stanton, “His face is the story.”
Shepard sure as shit got that right. Just point the camera and shoot and the Harry Dean visage gives a narrative.
Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja‘s script for LUCKY utilises that face effectively, affectingly and affectionately in the spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist known as Lucky and the quirky characters that inhabit his off the map desert town.
Having out lived and out smoked all of his contemporaries, the fiercely independent Lucky finds himself at the precipice of life, thrust into a journey of self exploration, leading towards that which is so often unattainable: enlightenment.
Acclaimed character actor John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut, LUCKY is at once a love letter to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton as well as a meditation on mortality, loneliness, spirituality, and human connection.
Lucky is a man of ritual, arising at the same time every morning, doing his callisthenics while simultaneously enjoying a cigarette.
Recreation at home is doing cross word puzzles and watching game shows. He breakfasts at the same diner every day, gets his smokes from the same grocery store, and walks to the same bar, Elaine’s, to drink bloody Marys.
Much of the action of LUCKY takes place in the bar where he interacts with a variety of regular barflys, the bartender and the publican. One of his best buddies, Howard, is fretting over the disappearance of his ancient tortoise, Roosevelt, a pet he has had since time immemorial. David Lynch’s performance as the bereft reptile fancier is a beautiful rendition of loss and hope.
David Lynch‘s appearance, other than supplying a virtuoso performance, conjures comparisons that LUCKY has with Lynch’s directorial work, especially the often overlooked and underrated The Straight Story, which, incidentally, featured Harry Dean Stanton.
LUCKY also has a Twin Peaks moment when a fellow barfly played by James Darren accompanies him to a lane way outside Elaine’s where a cosmic light show plies them with mystical wonder.
LUCKY works as a quasi screen biography of Harry Dean Stanton – the desert town location and Mexican music – he gets to sing and play harmonica- are redolent of Paris Texas, Tom Skerrit‘s turn as a fellow veteran recalls their teaming in Alien, and so it goes.
LUCKY is full of zinger lines made all the zingier played deadpan – “One thing worse than awkward silence is small talk”.
The one line from LUCKY that sums up the picture best is “I’m a nothing with everything, isn’t that something?”
We should feel so lucky that we had actors like Harry Dean Stanton gracing our screens making indelible contributions to classic films – The Godfather Part II, Alien, Paris Texas, Repo Man, Pretty in Pink, The Missouri Breaks, the list goes on.
You should be so lucky to ferret out this fine, fine life affirming film.
Funnier than a comedy, laden with special affects rather than special effects, LUCKY lives up to its title and makes one feel lucky to have seen it.