Lucky (NR)

Drama 88 min. September 29, 2017
By Alan Scherstuhl
Still trudging through the blasted desertscape of the mind 33 years after Paris, Texas, Harry Dean Stanton hoofs along beneath the opening titles of Lucky, his richly aimless swan song, past cacti and scrub brush, the sparseness of the landscape suggesting something of the lead's drift of mind. Stanton's Lucky, an old salt who director John Carroll Lynch (yes, the beloved character actor) conceived of as essentially Stanton himself, tumbleweeds about a small desert town, interested mostly in the essentials. His response to a dude at the bar telling him about the game show Deal or No Deal: "So, a guy picks a case and I've gotta wait a fuckin' hour to see what's in it?" A woman who rescues pets insists that he should consider adopting a critter, giving it "a forever home," and you may laugh in anticipation of his barfly philosopher's response: "Nothing's permanent."

Lucky bookends Paris, Texas in its sense of its hero's restlessness, but here he's at last rooted, his search for meaning planted in routine. We watch Stanton's skeletal Lucky trod through his days: Yoga in the a.m., in white tank top and underpants, then some game shows and the crossword puzzle. Working on a clue, he wonders aloud, "Is realism a thing?"

You're free to ponder that during this breezy but unhurried film's diner colloquies and scenes of Stanton plodding about town. There's little story; we just steep in Stanton. Sometimes a sharp vision cuts through the elegiac meandering: Savor the sight of one of America's great character actors, around the age of 80, running hose water on a cactus in his underwear, a straw hat and black cowboy boots.
John Carroll Lynch Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt Logan Sparks, Drago Sumonja Magnolia Pictures

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