Sometimes there are those films that you walk out of not really wanting to talk about them. Films that carry an experience so intense or personal as to overwhelm the capability to craft sentences. Sometimes it takes a few days to be able to talk about them. Sometimes you never really can.
Art is like that. Sometimes it’s ethereal beauty, sometimes it’s a sobbing punch in the stomach. As long as it moves you, right?
Lucky is neither ethereal nor is it a punch. It’s a very down-to-earth movie about some giant, sweeping, world-swallowing concepts. The film takes up something fundamental and real and human and, through daily minutiae, tells you a tale much deeper and more emotional than a recitation of the events in the film would convey.
It’s a movie about coming to terms with the inevitability of death. It’s about how you carry on living your life in the face of something so enormous (and particularly how you do it when you don’t believe another life comes after this one). It is real and it is raw and it is visceral, without containing any exceptional events or large plot points.
The film begins with Harry Dean Stanton as the title character, doing his morning routine in underwear. The film doesn’t shy away from showing his body. It also doesn’t shy away from showing the spikier parts of his personality. The portrait it paints is of a man not particularly refined or pleasant, but he is easy to identify with.
While he’s coming to grips with his fear of death, you are right there with him in the thick of that fear. Through its simple beats, the film rakes you over the coals.
It reminded me of nothing more than this edition of “A Softer World”:
The film ends, amazingly enough, on an upbeat note. However, thinking of its turns and its points is making me cry again right now. Like getting old itself, the film is not for the faint of heart.
It doesn’t help that Lucky was Stanton’s final film. He died September 15 of this year. I have no doubt that, at 90 during the filming, his own emotions fueled this performance. The character has a lot in common with him. I hope it helped him through a scary time. I have no doubt that it will help others through integrating the inevitability that they will die.
Me, meanwhile, I’ll be sitting here with a heavy mind asking myself how I ever convinced myself I wasn’t.