David Lynch, Tom Skerritt, Ed Begley Jr., Harry Dean Stanton, and Ron Livingston in Lucky (2017)


(director: John Carroll Lynch; screenwriters: Logan Sparks, Drago Sumonja; cinematographer: Tim Suhrstedt; editor: Slobodan Gajic; music: Elvis Kuehn; cast: Harry Dean Stanton (Lucky), David Lynch (Howard), Ron Livingston (Bobby Lawrence), Ed Begley Jr. (Dr. Christian Kneedler), Tom Skerritt (Fred, ex-Marine), Beth Grant (Elaine), James Darren (Paulie), Barry Shabaka Henley (Joe), Yvonne Huff (Loretta), Hugo Armstrong (Vincent), Bertila Damas (Bibi), Ana Mercedes (Victoria), Amy Claire (Frances), Sarah Cook (Debbie); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jason Delane Lee, Bill Harnisch, Ruth Ann Harnisch, Charles Duffy; Magnolia; 2017)

Poignantly observant and wryly humorous character study drama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The film’s marvelous star, Harry Dean Stanton, died at 91, this September, playing the titled character with great feelings and without much effort. He goes out on an excellent film, something that he deserved. The character actor turned director John Carroll Lynch has an auspicious directing debut in this poignantly observant and wryly humorous character study drama. The script by Drago Sumonja and Logan Sparks is clever, quirky, melancholy and moving, and is perfectly catered to Stanton.

The old-timer Lucky, dresses in western garb and lives alone in this backwater unnamed poor man’s town out west with a large Spanish influence. We learn he got his name when in the Navy as a cook on an LST boat during WW2, as his fellow sailors said he got the softest job on the ship and deserved to be called Lucky. The plotless indie revolves around us following Lucky taking in his daily routines. It starts in the morning with Lucky in his undies doing calisthenics at home. At the local diner he jokes with the owner (Barry Shabaka Henley) and the waitress (Yvonne Huff), and sits at the counter doing a newspaper crossword puzzle as he muses over the word “realism.” In the afternoon he walks to Elaine’s bar and drinks a “Bloody Maria,” and converses with the bartender (James Darren), the owner (Beth Grant) and her dead beat long-time boyfriend (Hugo Armstrong). He also engages in a whack conversation with his kooky friend Howard (David Lynch, the acclaimed director of such films as Eraserhead), who is depressed because his pet tortoise President Roosevelt escaped. When the cowboy falls in his kitchen he visits his doctor (Ed Begley Jr.), who finds nothing wrong and tells him he has given up trying to get him to stop smoking.

This is clearly Stanton’s pic, as he feeds off the bristling and emotional conversations with others, such as the WW2 ex-marine (Tom Skerritt) he bonds with and an insurance agent (Ron Livingston) who angers him by trying to hustle Howard. It might be a small film but it resonates as one of the year’s best.