REVIEW BY SARA DARLING
If you have the nickname Lucky, you might think you have a blessed life; However there is nothing that marks our star of the show, Harry Dean Stanton as having experienced anything remarkable in his 90 years. We join him, in his long johns, as he pants and wheezes through the closing chapter of his life.
Playing an old man living out his last days, as an old man living out his last days (Stanton died shortly after this film wrapped) makes the movie much more poignant.
And the spiritual element of being a non-believer in pretty much everything, is the crux of the story “THe truth of the universe, It’s all gonna go away into blackness the void and nobody's in charge, and you’re left with nothing”. Knowing you’re on death’s door, but not knowing what’s next is something that at some point we will all have to address.
Stanton provides a mesmerising performance as a cantankerous, grumpy, independent loner, who is set in his ways. Never married, and no kids he is a stubborn old boot. Preferring to do morning stretches with a cigarette and spend most of the day in his underwear, he has miraculously outlived most of his friends.
The chain smoking WW2 veteran is the first to admit his life has been uneventful and predictable, which has led to his profound thoughts on being. But his opinions are not always agreed with in this sleepy Arizona backwater, where life is slow, and the biggest drama is when a pet tortoise goes missing.
As the protagonist, Stanton as Lucky has a routine of drinking coffee, doing crossword puzzles at the Diner and watching TV game shows in his dated condo. Often he will stop by the Mexican supermarket for milk and cigarettes before returning home to watch “his shows”.
His night time activities consist of visiting Elaine’s Saloon for a Bloody Maria; He knows all the locals who are always sat on the same stools. The hotchpotch of characters illustrate the random bunch of residents who have settled for the slow way of desert life, and Lucky’s surreal and metaphysical opinions often disrupt the tranquility.
Throughout the film, he is deadpan and seemingly bleak and only perks up when he meets Vittoria at the Mexican birthday party. The shop assistants mum flirts with him in Spanish, and he then bursts into song, crooning a beautiful version of “Volver Volver”.
Knowing he is on his last legs, he can’t be enthusiastic about what’s next, claiming ‘the future is not ours to see’, but it doesn't mean he is depressed. The final scenes don't show him dying as you might expect, but he shuffles off into the sunset, leaving a sense of hope.
A film about death does not sound very rock n roll, but fans of Stanton will appreciate his performance of a lifetime as he silently explores what will happen next. Touching and poignant it will make you question your feelings with keeping peace, regrets and bitterness.
One not to miss.
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