Lucky is one big, warm farewell to Harry Dean Stanton, a man who didn’t hug the spotlight or seek out starring roles, but who made even the smallest parts count. What looks to be his penultimate performance is also one of his largest. He plays an old mainstay in a small Southern town who does his yoga exercises every morning, pops in to the local café for coffee and a crossword, goes home to watch his favourite game show, and ventures to one of the bars for a Bloody Mary every night. One day, while he stares at the blinking clock on his coffeemaker, he falls down without explanation, and the incident spooks him. Independent and opinionated, Lucky finds it hard to accept his encroaching mortality. He doesn’t want to hire a live-in assistant, and he’s still feisty enough to challenge people he doesn’t like to fisticuffs as though he were sixty years younger. Eventually, though, he will pass, and his journey is to make peace with the inevitable.
Unsurprisingly, the strength of the film lies with Stanton, whose quiet and absorbing presence fills the screen with an unassuming grandeur. Whether or not he’s playing himself here is irrelevant, because the sheer sight of him and the sound of his voice are enough to convey a lifetime of wisdom—exactly who Lucky is as a character. I’m less keen on the heavy-handed metaphors that are sprinkled throughout the plot, like David Lynch’s runaway tortoise (though seeing Lynch and Stanton together for the last time made me choke up a little). I can overlook them, though, because the richness of Stanton’s presence outweighs them all. He was one of the greats, and Lucky is a great curtain call.