Lucky (2017 American film)

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Lucky (2017 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Carroll Lynch
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Logan Sparks
  • Drago Sumonja
Music byElvis Kuehn
CinematographyTim Suhrstedt
  • Superlative Films
  • Divide / Conquer
  • Lagralane Group
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Release date
  • March 11, 2017 (2017-03-11) (SXSW)[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$955,925[2]

Lucky is a 2017 American drama film, starring Harry Dean Stanton and directed by John Carroll Lynch from a screenplay by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja. It was one of Stanton's final onscreen roles before his death at the age of 91 on September 15, 2017. The film tells the story of a 90-year-old man nicknamed "Lucky" and his struggles against encroaching old age. It depicts his coming to terms with his own mortality as he searches for enlightenment. The film received positive reviews from critics.


Lucky lives alone in an isolated house in the small desert town of Piru, California. He drinks a glass of cold milk after his morning yoga and cigarette before getting dressed and heading out on his daily routine.

He heads to a diner for coffee where he is on friendly terms with the owner, Joe. He works on his crossword puzzle from his daily newspaper. Lucky then walks to a convenience store where he buys another pack of cigarettes and a carton of milk. The owner, Bibi, tells Lucky that her son Juan is having his tenth birthday in one week. That evening, Lucky stops at a bar called Elaine's and has a few Bloody Marias with the locals. One of the regulars, Howard, is depressed that his pet tortoise named Roosevelt has escaped.

The next morning, Lucky becomes entranced by the blinking numbers on his coffeepot. He gets light-headed and falls over, smashing his ceramic mug. At a clinic, Dr. Christian Kneedler gives Lucky a clean bill of health, and mentions that Lucky has out-smoked and outlived the majority of people in his age group. At the diner, Lucky mentions how he fell and everyone becomes concerned for his safety. Not wanting to feel like a burden, Lucky leaves. That night, Lucky calls a friend while he watches TV. He tells his friend that when he was a boy in Kentucky, he shot a mockingbird with his BB gun. He describes how devastating the silence was, and that it was the saddest thing he had ever seen. Lucky thanks his friend for listening and hangs up.

Back at the bar, Lucky listens to a story from one of the bar regulars, Paulie, about how he met and married his first wife. Lucky reflects on how he never married or had any lasting relationships. Lucky sees Howard talking with a lawyer named Bobby Lawrence about making a will for himself and wanting to leave all of his possessions to his pet tortoise. Lucky causes a scene over Howard's life choices, declaring that everyone in this world is alone and is meant to be alone. Another day or two later, Joe's employee Loretta visits Lucky to check on him. While smoking marijuana, Lucky shows Loretta old photos of his time in the US Navy and they watch old VHS tapes of Liberace performing in concert. While having coffee at the diner, Lucky runs into Bobby Lawrence, where he confides in him about his accident days earlier. Bobby tells Lucky about a time when he nearly got into a car accident and tells Lucky to always be prepared for the unexpected. Lucky visits a pet store to look for a small animal to adopt as a companion, but he instead decides on a box of live crickets.

Lucky meets a World War II Marine veteran named Fred. Lucky tells Fred about his time in the US Navy during the war in the Pacific, and shares that his nickname arose from having the relatively safe job of cook on an LST. Fred tells Lucky a story about how after the Marines secured a beach, the locals began to commit suicide by jumping off cliffs. In the mayhem of battle, he encountered a young girl, smiling amidst all the carnage. Fred wondered how she could smile in the midst of all that misery and death. He later learned that the girl was a Buddhist and was smiling at the prospect of being killed. The story leaves Lucky speechless. Upon returning home, Lucky sets the clock on his coffee machine to the correct time to stop the blinking. He attends Bibi's son Juan's birthday party and comes to enjoy having company. He spontaneously sings "Volver Volver" in Spanish for the party goers.

That evening, Lucky goes back to the bar for more Bloody Marias. Howard has not found his tortoise yet, and concludes that all things must eventually come to an end. Lucky then attempts to light a cigarette at the bar despite being ordered not to do so by the owner, Elaine. He delivers a speech to the bar patrons that everything goes away eventually and that we are left with nothing. Elaine asks what is one supposed to do with nothing. Lucky simply replies "you smile". The remark transforms the mood of the bar; Lucky lights up his cigarette and steps outside.

The next morning, Lucky wakes up and goes through his usual routine of yoga and drinking a glass of cold milk. He goes for a walk through town, as he always does, and passes by the outdoor botanic garden and bar where he was previously banned for public smoking. In the desert, Lucky lights up a cigarette, and looks up at a tall and imposing cactus in bloom. He breaks the fourth wall and smiles as he begins his walk back into town. As Lucky heads down the desert path alone, a tortoise trudges across the path from one end to the other before disappearing into the desert bushes.



On July 7, 2016, it was revealed that Lucky had begun filming in Los Angeles.[3]

On April 7, 2017, it was announced that Magnolia Pictures acquired U.S. and international rights to distribute the film.[4]


On Rotten Tomatoes, Lucky has a rating of 97%, based on 139 reviews, with an average score of 7.82/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Lucky is a bittersweet meditation on mortality, punctuating the career of beloved character actor Harry Dean Stanton."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 80 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[6]

Matt Zoller Seitz of gave the film four out of four stars, writing that the film is:

The humblest deep movie of recent years, a work in the same vein as American marginalia like 'Stranger Than Paradise' and 'Trees Lounge,' but with its own rhythm and color, its own emotional temperature, its own reasons for revealing and concealing things.[7]

Seitz later named Lucky as the best film of 2017, stating that "I didn't expect much more than indie-film quirk when I read the description of this film, but emotionally it destroyed me."[8]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
Camerimage International Film Festival November 18, 2017 Directors' Debuts Competition John Carroll Lynch Nominated [9]
Chicago Film Critics Association December 12, 2017 Best Actor Harry Dean Stanton Nominated [10]
Most Promising Filmmaker John Carroll Lynch Nominated
Gijón International Film Festival November 25, 2017 AISGE Award for Best Actor Harry Dean Stanton Won [11]
Best Original Score Elvis Kuehn Won
Gotham Independent Film Awards November 27, 2017 Best Actor Harry Dean Stanton Nominated [12]
Haifa International Film Festival October 14, 2017 Carmel Award for Best Film Lucky Nominated [13]
Fedeora Award - Directors of Tomorrow John Carroll Lynch Won [14]
Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival November 26, 2017 Jaeger - LeCoultre Best Film Award Lucky Nominated [15]
Locarno Film Festival August 12, 2017 Golden Leopard Lucky Nominated [16]
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury Won
Satellite Awards February 11, 2018 Best Actor – Motion Picture Harry Dean Stanton Won[a] [17]
Special Achievement Award for Best First Feature John Carroll Lynch Won
Saturn Awards June 27, 2018 Best Independent Film Lucky Nominated [18]
Tallgrass Film Festival October 22, 2017 Outstanding Screenplay Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja Won [19]


  1. ^ Tied with Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour


  1. ^ Leydon, Joe (March 14, 2017). "SXSW Film Review: 'Lucky'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 18, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Lucky (2017)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Hipes, Patrick (July 7, 2016). "Harry Dean Stanton To Topline John Carroll Lynch's Indie 'Lucky'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Lang, Brett (April 7, 2017). "Magnolia Nabs 'Lucky' Starring Harry Dean Stanton". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Lucky (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved July 2, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Lucky (2017) Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 2, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller (September 29, 2017). "Lucky Movie Review & Film Summary (2017)". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved September 29, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ The Editors (December 14, 2017). "The Individual Top Tens of 2017". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved March 20, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Directors' Debuts Competition". Camerimage International Film Festival. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Childress, Erik (December 12, 2017). ""Lady Bird," "Call Me By Your Name" win big for Chicago film critics". Chicago Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Gijón/Xixón International Film Festival 55th Edition Winners". City Council of Gijón. November 25, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Erbland, Kate (October 19, 2017). "'Get Out' Leads 2017 Gotham Awards Nominations". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved October 19, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Carmel Competition - International Film Competition 2017". Haifa International Film Festival. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "Best Israeli Feature Film Award – "The Testament"". Haifa International Film Festival. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Filmes em COMPETIÇÃO no LEFFEST'17". Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival. Leopardo Filmes. October 30, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ Locarno Festival [@FilmFestLocarno] (August 12, 2017). "Ecumenical Prize: LUCKY di John Carroll Lynch #Locarno70 @LuckyFilm2017 @MrJCLynch" (Tweet). Retrieved June 21, 2018 – via Twitter.
  17. ^ Pond, Steve (November 28, 2017). "'Dunkirk,' 'The Shape of Water' Lead Satellite Award Nominations". TheWrap. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Penske Business Media. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "2017 Festival Award Winners". Tallgrass Film Festival. Tallgrass Film Association. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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