Ryan Colson Reviews – Lucky

Ryan Colson Lucky Review
A Film Review of “Lucky”, by Ryan Colson

Over the weekend I found the time to go and see a film I had long been anticipating, not for its thrilling action scenes nor its exciting suspense, but for its leading actor – the late Harry Dean Stanton.

Despite a career largely made up of supporting roles, Stanton is one of my all time favourite actors. His distinctive, weathered, facial features allow directors to depict a unique type of character. A character who is a misfit, an oddball, perhaps a vagabond or a crook, yet with a wealth of life experience that a more glamorous actor would not be able to convincingly portray.

In his last role before dying last year at the the age of 91, Stanton plays Lucky; an ageing, philosophical, chain-smoking atheist who lives in a remote town in the Arizona desert. A rare leading role for Stanton, director John Carroll Lynch obviously wrote Lucky with Stanton in mind. There are many elements of Lucky’s character that resemble the life of the actor portraying him. Stanton, like Lucky, was a second world war navy veteran, he too never married nor had children, and when playing the role he too was coming to terms with the fact that he was approaching death.

Lucky’s daily life revolves around routine. He wakes up every day to a cigarette, a pre-poured glass of milk and yoga exercises in his underwear. Following this he does the rounds of the few establishments in his local town, the diner, the grocery store and, after watching some afternoon game shows at his house, the local bar. Topics of conversation among the locals in the bar include philosophy, morality, a missing pet tortoise and game shows etc. One evening at the bar, Lucky, whose dialogue is limited throughout the film, ponders “Realism is a thing … realism is accepting the situation as it is, and acting accordingly”. This quote is a nod to one of the key themes of the film – realising your situation, in Lucky’s case this is his impending death, and learning to accept it for what it is.

Stanton’s role is not the only standout one in this film. David Lynch’s small, but carefully constructed part is more than worthy of note. Lynch, who has himself directed Stanton numerous times before, plays Howard, a smartly dressed regular at Lucky’s local bar. Howard’s best friend President Roosevelt (his 100 year old pet tortoise) escapes through an open gate. This culminates in a melt down for the character, leaving him feeling lonely and missing the “company” his tortoise gave him.  It is these quirky snippets of conversation that give the film its depth.

Ryan Colson Lucky Film Review

David Lynch as “Howard” (left) and Harry Dean Stanton as “Lucky” (right)

While it would miss out the picturesque Arizona desert cinematography, Lucky could perhaps be easily recreated in the theatre. This would work because the dialogue is the crux of the film. However for me personally, it is Stanton’s uniqueness that makes this movie a treasure.

Lucky was a fitting send off to an often overlooked great in Hollywood. It is a pleasure to have seen the actor play such a revealing and honest leading role before he passed away. His input to film will be genuinely missed.