One of Harry Dean Stanton’s final film performances, John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky proves a fitting tribute
“You’re old, and you’re getting older”
Even at the age of 90, Lucky is fit as a fiddle. It might be the daily yoga sessions, or the regular walks around the background Arizona town in which he resides, it sure ain’t the packet a day he smokes. But for whatever reason, life just keeps on rolling by and as a nonagenarian, he’s not one for changing anything anytime soon.
Written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja specifically for veteran actor Harry Dean Stanton, Lucky can’t help but now be informed by the death of the 91-year-old actor just before the film’s theatrical release in the US last year. As a meditation on mortality, it’s achingly poignant; but as a celebration of a life well lived, connections made, a career fulfilled, it is quietly joyful.
Quietly, because it isn’t a film filled with adrenaline and drama, its a series of character studies, short vignettes as Stanton’s Lucky goes about his everyday business, determined to consider himself a loner but finding his life enriched through tiny interactions. Crooning a song in Spanish at the birthday party of the corner shop’s owner’s son, unexpectedly scoring some weed off his favourite waitress, reminiscing about WWII – Lucky is filled with exquisitely tender moments.
And as he’s also a grouchy old man, there’s some wonderfully crotchety moments too, particularly around his smoking habits. John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut (American Horror Story’s Twisty the Clown and Norm in Fargo to name just two of his acting credits) has a stark beauty to it, a strangeness too in some of the nicely unexplained curveballs he lobs in there, and it is a restraint that pays heart-rending dividends.