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Featured DVD Review: Lucky

January 1st, 2018

Lucky - Buy from Amazon: DVD
Video on Demand


Lucky is the directorial debut for John Carroll Lynch and the second last performance by its star, Harry Dean Stanton, who sadly passed away just before the film was released. Does the film celebrate the acting talents of Harry Dean Stanton? Does John Carroll Lynch show he’s got the talent to be a director in his first film?

The Movie

Harry Dean Stanton plays the titular Lucky, who we first meet as he wakes up and immediately lights a cigarette. He does some light exercises, which is a step above what I do in the morning, eats breakfast, which consists of a cup of coffee and glass of milk, before heading out. He’s clearly got a daily routine he sticks to, as the diner owner, Joe greets him like family, and tries to guilt him into quitting smoking. Meanwhile Loretta gets him his coffee just as he likes it, even before he orders it. After completing his crossword puzzle, or some of it, he heads to the corner store, buys some milk, talks to the cashier, Bibi, heads home, and watches his game shows on TV. In the evening, he heads off to the bar, just in time to hear the owner, Elaine, tell one of her stories. The bartender, Vincent, immediately knows what drink to make Lucky. Howard, Lucky’s friend, shows up and he’s distraught, because President Roosevelt, Howard’s pet tortoise, escaped. This is the first thing that’s happened all day that doesn’t feel utterly routine.

The next day’s routine is interrupted when Lucky has a dizzy spell waiting for his coffee to be made. His doctor has... not really good news, but certainly not bad news. Mostly non-news. Lucky didn’t break any bones during the fall. He didn’t get a concussion. His blood pressure and heart are good. Even his lungs are all good, which is impressive when you take into account how much he smokes. There doesn’t appear to be a reason he fell over, other than he’s just getting old. All the doctor can do for Lucky is get him prepared for the end of his life. This news does change up Lucky’s routine, but he’s 91 years old and change is the last thing he wants.

The film is a slice-of-life film, so while there are no real spoilers, it’s more enjoyable to experience the movie first hand.

Lucky is part of a sub-genre of films where reliable actors who have grown too old to get regular leading roles are given a meaty starring performance that should be generating a ton of Oscar buzz, but didn’t. Grandma and Hello, My Name is Doris came out in the past two years and failed to earn the Awards Season recognition that I thought they deserved, so this year I was expecting Lucky to get ignored, and it did. This film arguably has a lot more in common with Venus, right down to medical scare as part of the plot. All three of these previous movies are worth owning and I’m happy to report this one is just as good.

This is a real shame, as Harry Dean Stanton gives a captivating performance in a film that was written for him specifically. I recently reviewed The Hero, which has a lot of similarities with this film. Both films had an amazing central performance, a great supporting cast, and a health scare that was central to the overall plot. However, Lucky’s script is as good as its cast, which is something I couldn’t say about The Hero. It feels more authentic from the character interactions to the overall plot. The movie is certainly episodic and doesn’t have a real flow to it, but that’s life. It’s just a few days in the life of Lucky and the people he interacts with.

One last note, Harry Dean Stanton gets to show off his musical talent, which is rare for his career.

The Extras

There are not a lot of extras, which is common for a limited release. There’s a short 2-minute interview clip with Harry Dean Stanton, plus a 2-minute behind the scenes clip. Up next is a 14-minute interview with the director, John Carroll Lynch, while the final extra is a 27-minute interview with the two co-writers, Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja. 45 minutes of featurettes isn’t bad for a limited release.

The Verdict

Lucky is a great movie and a fantastic way for Harry Dean Stanton to end his career. I also hope it is the beginning of John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut. The DVD isn’t loaded with extras, while there wasn’t even a Blu-ray release, but it is still worth picking up.

Filed under: Video Review, Hugo Armstrong, Ed Begley, Jr., Beth Grant, David Lynch, John Carroll Lynch, Barry Shabaka Henley, Harry Dean Stanton, Yvonne Huff, Drago Sumonja, Logan Sparks, Bertila Damas