'Lucky' movie review: Melancholic, poetic & wise film peers into the abyss of death
In short: Ninety-year-old cowboy Lucky (Stanton) has a brush with mortality which leads him to question the nature of life and death. David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr. and Tom Skerritt also star.
Stanton's death gives "Lucky" more meaning than perhaps it would have had if the veteran actor was still alive. He is so perfectly cast as the philosophical cowboy that one would assume the part was written specifically with Stanton in mind. Stanton - himself in his early 90s - carries himself with a stubborn independence, despite the well-worn denim that hangs loosely on his wiry frame.
Although not outright mean-spirited, Lucky is a prickly old man set in his ways and in his daily routine. He made it to 90-years-old doing morning yoga and smoking a pack-a-day dagnabbit, why should he change anything about his life? The fact that the mundane act of falling throws the nonagenarian's world off his axis makes his inner journey relatable.
"Lucky" doesn't have an overt story arch of obvious plot points - this is a patiently paced and poignant reflection of a long-life lived and one man facing the abyss of death. He contemplates fleeting but monumental moments in his life - seemingly innocuous anecdotes about Liberace and a mockingbird that have stuck with him through the decades. He is upfront about his feelings regarding the inevitability of death - as well as his notions about permanence.
While Stanton carries the film on his sturdy shoulders, a rotating cast of supporting character each get a chance to shine in their own respective scenes. Each confronts a separate nature of aging - health, companionship and making final preparations. But Skerritt - playing a fellow World War II veteran - gets the most powerful scene.
Reminiscent of "The Straight Story" or "About Schimdt," "Lucky" is a quiet, methodically paced film caters to patient film goers who appreciate a more thoughtful, ponderous drama. Stanton deserves posthumous award season recognition for his final onscreen role in this poetic and philosophical musing of a universal topic that every viewer has at least pondered in their life.
Final verdict: "Lucky" is a sublime and melancholic meditation, anchored by one of the must-see acting performances of 2017.
"Lucky" opens in in additional cities Oct. 13. This drama is unrated and has a running time of 88 minutes.