Harry Dean Stanton is LUCKY
“There are some things in this world that are bigger than all of us — and a tortoise is one of ’em.” / David Lynch as Howard.
What I love most about this film is Lucky’s approach to facing his own mortality. There is no last action-packed adventure or drama. Lucky, an atheist, takes on this last spiritual journey in a truthful and realistic way. The change happens on the inside.
Lucky was Harry Dean Stanton’s second to last on-screen role before his death at the age of 91 on the 15th of September, 2017. The script was written with Stanton in mind, The whole film reads like a love letter to the actor, and it is truly a beautifully strange tribute. The film is John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut for Magnolia Pictures.
Lucky, a World War II veteran, lives at the edge of a small town. He takes pride in his self-sufficiency and lives his life alone – or so he thinks, following a consistent daily routine. Every morning he wakes up, does five yoga exercises, drinks a glass of cold milk, and heads over to the local coffee shop where he has an exchange with the owner, Joe, played by Barry Shabaka Henley. As he walks through the door, Lucky says “You are nothing”, Joe answeres “You are nothing” back, to which Lucky responds “Thank you”. He sits down and does his crossword puzzles while drinking his coffee.
Lucky then heads to a grocery store to buy milk and his one packet of cigarettes a day before heading home to watch his gameshows. He is invited to the birthday party of the grocery shop owner, Bibi’s son Juan. At night he visits the local bar Elaine’s where another local, Howard, played by David Lynch, is grieving over his runaway tortoise Roosevelt.
The following morning Lucky takes a fall and goes to see his doctor, who gives him a clean bill of health and tells Lucky that he is in the unique position of being able to witness what he is going through and clearly examine it.
The next day Lucky repeats his daily routine, but this time he starts to slowly reflect on life and events that surround him in his community. As he is internally coming to terms with the reality of having months to live rather than decades, he inserts himself in the lives of the other locals and even attends Juan’s birthday party. There is a mesmerizing scene at this party where he sings Volver Volver to the party-goers and seems to be enjoying the companionship.
The film is a melancholic, philosophical and funny contemplation on the reality of ageing that touches my heart as well as my soul. As Lucky puts it so eloquently;
“Realism is accepting the situation as it is and acting accordingly”.
*Header photo; A scene from LUCKY, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
**Poster photo; Theatrical one-sheet for LUCKY, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.