dir John Carroll Lynch
scr Logan Sparks, Drago Sumonja
prd Danielle Renfrew Gehrens, Ira Steven Behr, Richard Kahan, Greg Gilreath, Adam Hendricks, John Lang, Logan Sparks, Drago Sumonja
with Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr, Tom Skerritt, Barry Shabaka Henley, James Darren, Beth Grant, Yvonne Huff Lee, Hugo Armstrong, Bertila Damas, Pamela Sparks
release US 29.Sep.17, UK 14.Sep.18
17/US 1h28
Swapping stories: Lynch and Stanton

livingston grant begley
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Lucky Released shortly after his death in September 2017, this gently loping drama is a terrific showcase for Harry Dean Stanton's offbeat screen charisma. Actor-turned-director John Carroll Lynch quietly revels in the script's jagged sense of humour, creating a disarming, unexpected drama that's packed with lovely moments of emotion and wry insight.

A fixture in his small Arizona town, Lucky (Stanton) is a wiry 90-year-old Navy veteran whose good health gives him a confident outlook as he exercises each morning, then drinks and smokes all day. A realist who doesn't believe people have souls, he's alerted by an inexplicable fall to the fact that his health can only get worse from here on. Of course, this only makes him feistier, especially when he meets the lawyer Bobby (Livingston), who wants to help him plan for end-of-life care. All of which causes him to ponder his mortality.

The eclectic supporting ensemble adds witty touches, most notably when they gather in the evening at the local bar. David Lynch (no relation) plays Lucky's drinking buddy, upset because his 100-year-old tortoise President Roosevelt has escaped. Darren is a barfly who tells the same story over and over again. Skerritt is a Marine veteran who swaps emotional war stories with Lucky. And the fabulous Grant is hilariously sassy bar owner Elaine, who challenges Lucky for refusing to follow rules.

Stanton is simply wonderful, inhabiting the role perfectly and commanding the screen without seeming to try at all. Even when he's telling a rambling story, he's riveting. Or when he's staring at a majestic saguaro that's older than he is. And when he breaks out in song with a mariachi band at a young boy's birthday party, we never want it to end. It's the kind of performance that brings decades of experience to the screen along with a passion for life, a curiosity to always find something new.

The film is beautifully edited to capture the relaxed rhythms of this tiny town where days unfold, one after the other, with a nagging but perhaps comforting predictability. At its core, this is about an old man exploring the beliefs he has held his whole life, weighing up his life and staring into what he sees as just the empty abyss of impending death. "And what do you do with that?" Elaine asks. "You smile," Lucky replies.

cert 15 themes, language 11.Sep.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall