2017 has been an unfortunate reminder of how time slowly comes for us all, even for those actors who watching on the screen so dearly, that to imagine a world without them would simply be too disheartening. Bill Paxton was one of those deaths that came all too soon. Harry Dean Stanton was another. But at the ripe old age of 91, his final film Lucky serves as a fitting end and no doubt a grim personal reflection for the actor.
The film follows the life of Lucky, a 90-year-old atheist who struggles against the idea of his imminent death amongst those who appear more joyful and content at their old age. Immediately, such a storyline resonates with its lead actor in Stanton but whilst it appears to be a heavy-hearted affair, Stanton managed to add enough humor to make it a pleasure to watch. He’s even joined by life friend and longtime collaborator David Lynch, who plays his best friend and the two’s chemistry is alone worth going to watch.
What Lucky does well is telling its message raw and upfront. There are moments where Stanton delivers a lamenting monologue with an unflinching delivery that truly stand out as highlights of not only the film but him as a character. He’s a stubborn, cynical old man, who knows he’s going to do soon but more importantly is afraid of what lies ahead. He’s scared shitless as he says and this is what makes him human. You sympathize with his plea instead of turning away from what could have been delivered as an arrogant atheist. It makes you appreciate the life you want to live out for yourself and in turn gain the respect for the elderly that you might have forgotten to hold.
Whilst these ideas are great and tell an important outlook on life, they’re not exactly very original. There are plenty of other movies that deal with the same subject but that do so far better. Synecdoche, New York and Mary and Max ring a bell and unfortunately Lucky simply can’t compete with the best. Overall it works simply as a nice slow burn of a movie with a deep hearted message. Instances between Lynch and Stanton are great, and Lucky himself has a few witty moments and remarks that make you smile but aside from that, it’s not much else.
You know essentially what you’re getting yourself into when you come to watch the trailer for it but this doesn’t have to detract from the experience. Lucky is still a well-made film. It’s acted to a T, it’s executed technically, and it ultimately holds an important message. If only it’s storyline could have been more interesting with more going on but perhaps that’s the point John Carroll Lynch wants to show. That sometimes life isn’t that interesting, especially when you’re at the ripe old age of 90. And maybe that tells the difference for those ready to enter the afterlife and for those that don’t. When the film finishes, not only do you get to think if Lucky is ready for his end but also if you will be when your time comes. And that can be somewhat of a scary thought.