Lucky (Stanton) is a ninety-year-old WWII veteran living in a forgotten Mexican border town. When he collapses at home and the doctor (Ed Begley Jr.) just puts it down to old age, Lucky begins to contemplate what must be the last year or so of his life and what might lie beyond. As he shuffles from coffee shop to bar, he engages the locals in conversation as to what it all means and doesn’t get the answer he’s looking for…
Making his debut behind the camera is one of Hollywood’s most underrated character actors: John Carroll Lynch (you’ll know him when you see him) has crafted a quiet but impressive film first time out, capturing one the last performances of another sterling character actor – Harry Dean Stanton. Carroll Lynch isn’t a showy director going on what’s offered here, preferring to keep things nice and tidy with only one eye-catching oddball sequence. The message here is life is full of people who surprise you and who will keep surprising you. You might even surprise them. And it’s the snippets of people’s lives that move in and out of Lucky’s quiet little world that keep one glued during this largely uneventful but wholly engaging drama.
There’s the Mexican grandmother with little English whom Lucky serenades in perfect Spanish at a birthday party. There’s the vet (Skerritt) whom Lucky shares his Pacific experiences with in the coffee shop. There’s Lucky’s neighbour (David Lynch) who is more than just fond on his pet tortoise, and the lawyer (Ron Livingston) who arranges for everything to be left to the tortoise upon Lynch’s death. And there’s the wonderful Beth Grant ('Donnie Darko'), who holds court with wild tales of youth in her local bar.
And finally there’s Harry Dean Stanton himself. Being the same age as the character Stanton is playing, it’s as if the screenplay (co-written by first-timers Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja) is written especially for him; Stanton looks frail as he wobbles with that strange gait of his but there’s life in the old buzzard yet. He bellows “c**t” at the spiritual garden he passes by every day and when Livingston doesn’t take up the challenge of ‘fisticuffs’, “I wouldn’t want to fight me either,” is Stanton’s response.
A tender, introspective reflection on life and death.