CREDIT: Magnolia Pictures

This review was originally posted on News Cult in September 2017.

Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant, James Darren, Ed Begley Jr.

Director: John Carroll Lynch

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Rating: Unrated, But Keep an Eye Out for Old Farts Who Don’t Hold Their Tongues and Occasionally Get High

Release Date: September 29, 2017 (Limited)

Not many actors – nay, not many people, period – get to a point in their lives and careers that Harry Dean Stanton got to. He was still performing as he reached his 90s, thereby allowing him to quite naturally play a role that served as a meditation on preparing for death. And while he appeared relatively healthy for a man nearing the century mark (he was healthy enough to work, after all), there is always the chance that a death from natural causes could come calling at any point. Thus, Stanton has left us with the parting gift of Lucky, released only two weeks after his passing at the age of 91.

The directorial debut of prolific character actor John Carroll Lynch (Fargo, Zodiac, Shutter Island, Drew Carey’s brother on The Drew Carey Show), Lucky screams, “Made By and For Harry Dean Stanton Fanboys.” The whole film is basically an excuse for the iconic rail-thin character actor to stomp around and insist that life should be exactly as he demands it should be. As the titular coot, he is a 90-year-old atheist living in a quiet desert town, making him the ideal embodiment for irritable libertarianism. He is the kind of guy who gets banned for life from one bar and then spends all his time in the town’s other bar insulting all his friends. But everyone still loves him, probably because it is impossible for Stanton not to give a deeply humanistic performance.

As a species, we are still reckoning with how to live to an age when our biological functions are partially or completely shutting down. Lucky’s (the film) answer is mostly that the best we can do is make arrangements for death so that our left behind loved ones will not have to deal with the stresses of funereal and actuarial bureaucracy. Lucky (the person) is open to this sort of Zen practicality, but as someone who does not have any close family or friends, his perspective is a little more prickly and a little more ambivalent. Ultimately, the answer is that we really don’t know with absolute certainty how to live and how to die, but we do what we can. And if that includes hearing Lucky’s friend Howard (an always delightful on-camera David Lynch) wax poetic about his pet tortoise President Roosevelt, then it will have all been a little bit worth it.

Lucky is Recommended If You Like: Harry Dean Stanton’s career, David Lynch’s acting career, Gran Torino

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Lollipops Up the Ass