John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky is a beautiful act of love. The Actor’s first feature as a director stars another (mythic) character actor, Harry Dean Stanton (Paris, Texas, Alien, Wild at Heart), in a rare lead. The actor died on September 15, 2017 at age 91, two weeks before the film was first released on US screens.
Lucky is all the way about the peculiar Stanton. And it works great as a homage while most of these type of films fail. Lucky is not really about its basic story line:
Stanton plays Lucky. The old US Navy veteran is at the dusk of life. When his quiet routine, walking around between home, the local diner and regular Bar (and arguing with locals) starts to fail because of declining health… (SHOULD I STOP HERE?)
What you should know instead to prepare yourself:
1) Famous film critic Roger Ebert created (and was right on) the “Stanton-Walsh Rule,” stating: “no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh (the private in Blood Simple, Deckard’s boss in Blade Runner, etc) in a supporting role can be altogether bad.”
2) Stanton’s pal, Jack Nicholson, told him, in the 1960’s, not to do anything, to just let the wardrobe do the acting. It became an acting principle. To be rather than to do.
So Harry Dean Stanton made a supporting role career in 200 films doing what he is best known for: just being. It is precisely what the director and screenwriters Logan Sparks & Drago Sumonja tried to catch on screen. And they provide. The work defies some critics stating they wished it would expand the character rather than contract to fit it. But doing that would have meant the trio didn’t get Stanton. But, good for us, they fully get it. And Lucky, with its blurred frontier between reality and fiction (many elements seemed borrowed from real life Stanton) is fascinating. It is a companion piece, a mirroring image, to Sophie Huber’s delightful documentary, Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (2012). They complete each other.
The rest of cast and crew (beautiful panoramas and sunsets by cinematographer Tim Suhrstedt), including director David Lynch (HDS played in six of his films and the Twin Peaks series) and fellow character actor Tom Skerritt (Alien, Top Gun), deliver enjoyable characterization.
Lucky is simple, spirited and filled with quiet episodic everyday poetry. It is about feeling. It perfectly transcends the homage it is. What a way to go.
Thanks for everything Harry.