Lucky: A Fitting Tribute to Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton in LUCKY, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

The best way to sum up Lucky is that the independent film is a fitting tribute to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton as the actor passed away in mid-September. When this film was produced, nobody could have possibly predicted that it would be among Stanton’s final roles.

Character actor John Carroll Lynch makes his directorial debut with Lucky from a screenplay written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja. Stanton leads a cast that includes David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant, James Darren, Barry Shabaka Henley, and Yvonne Huff Lee.

The performance by Stanton is one of the best I’ve seen this year and it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Stanton’s performance is one that people should be talking about during Awards Season. When this film was shown back in May in Chicago during the Chicago Critics Film Festival, an acting nomination was on my mind for the actor. Stanton has given us so many performances since breaking out into an acting career in the 1950s following his time at the University of Kentucky and military service during World War 2.

Lucky follows Lucky (Stanton) and the people who live within his desert town. He’s 90 years old and he’s not getting any younger but you wouldn’t know it from looking at him.  Even at his age, Lucky is still very independent and doesn’t like the idea of assisted living. The film touches on themes such as mortality, loneliness, spirituality, and human connection.

With all of his smoking throughout his life, Lucky should not be alive.  But he is and that speaks to the testament of his otherwise healthy lifestyle.  There are many funny scenes in this movie, including a scene featuring Lucky and Dr. Kneedler (Begley, Jr.) as Lucky wants to know what’s wrong with him.  Nothing is really wrong with Lucky as to put it simply, he’s just old.

It’s a film about nothingness in a way that’s very different from that of an NBC sitcom about nothing.  This theme is one that’s traced to Lucky’s first line as he walks into Joe’s Diner, telling Joe (Henley), “You’re nothing.” “You’re nothing,” responds Joe.  To which Lucky responds, “Thank you.”  This is a line of dialogue that came from Harry’s real life and exchanges with the valet at Ago’s in LA.

Pardon the pun but Chicago audiences were so lucky to have been able to see this film back in May during the film festival. Director Lynch was in attendance in addition to screenwriters Sparks and Sumonja for a Q&A that followed the Chicago premiere at the Music Box Theater.

Lucky premiered at SXSW Festival and Magnolia Pictures opened the film with a limited release on September 29, 2017. The film returns to the Music Box Theater in Chicago as it expands into more locations on October 6, 2017.  If the film comes to your neck of the woods, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t see it on the big screen.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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