Lucky, one of the final films of the great actor Harry Dean Stanton, is an eerily appropriate send-off for its star. Recalling in its dusty, isolated atmosphere the immortal Paris, Texas (Stanton's finest hour), it is centred around the eponymous character. Lucky is 90-years old, smokes a pack a day, and follows the same routine nearly every day. The only thing that can shake Lucky up is a health scare that reminds him of his inevitably approaching death.
The close-knit circle of characters that surround Lucky and influence and guide his existential, philosophical crisis are a fascinating and endearing bunch. Acclaimed director and sometimes actor David Lynch brings his unusually stilted acting style to the role of Howard, a man who is missing his pet tortoise, and Beth Grant is wonderful as usual as the saucy bar owner Elaine. It is through these characters that the film gives meaning and context to Lucky's inner struggle.
First-time director (best known as an actor) John Carroll Lynch has created a sumptuous and gorgeously soundtracked film. Its expressive visuals add layers to the tricky concepts with which the film grapples. Where Lucky stumbles slightly, is in the execution of what is quite a prickly script by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja. Heavily symbolic and strongly visual, it sometimes loses itself in self-conscious quirkiness.
Amidst the by-turns downcast and life-affirming milieu, Harry Dean Stanton gives a performance that is utterly believable, sensitively felt, and played with the gusto of a much younger actor. Despite the shortcomings of the film as a whole, Stanton's performance alone is worth the price of admission.
Lucky is now showing in Sydney exclusively at Chauvel Cinema, Paddington.