After an idiosyncratic career of iconic roles for everyone from Wim Wenders to David Lynch, the late Harry Dean Stanton hangs up his hat with this wryly funny, affecting character study.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2018
Epitaphs rarely come more perfect than John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky, a stellar curtain call for renowned character actor Harry Dean Stanton, who left us in September last year. From the nods to Stanton’s most iconic roles to the parallels with his personal life, Lucky feels like a handwritten love letter to the man from the opening frame. Stanton is the titular Lucky, an eccentric veteran living a quiet life of routine in a small Arizona town. But when he suddenly collapses one morning, the shock sends him reeling into a philosophical self-excavation in which he must confront the inevitability of his own death. What’s remarkable is that, despite being a reflection on our impending demise, Lucky never feels suffocated by the weight of its themes. There’s a lovely, shambling rhythm at work, with first-timer Lynch consistently finding poetry and humour in the everyday. And then there’s Stanton, who offers up a deeply soulful turn brimming with the wily charisma and bruising melancholy for which he was known. For a career comprised of some of the screen’s most unforgettable drifters and oddballs, it’s one hell of a way to close the book. David Lynch, Ron Livingston and Beth Grant co-star. — JF
“Even if it weren't arriving immediately after his death at the age of 91, this effortlessly moving portrait would be a milestone in Stanton's career, his most substantial role since 1984’s Paris, Texas and one of the most affecting performances he ever gave. The directing debut of John Carroll Lynch, it feels like a gift from one outstanding character actor to another.” — John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter