Harry Dean Stanton, who died on Sept. 15, was a national treasure. In his seven-decade career, he appeared in more than 100 films, and there wasn’t a single one that his presence didn’t elevate, especially as he got older and even more interesting. His weathered face, wiry features, and frisky grin allowed him to somehow say more with less. The rascally twinkle in his eyes never dimmed; it just got brighter. For proof, you needn’t look any further than Lucky, one of his final films, which doubles as a love letter to a true Hollywood original.
Stanton plays an elderly curmudgeon who takes no bull and fills his days wandering around his tiny tumbleweed town, smoking, doing the crossword, and talking back to TV game shows (“You blew it, honey. There goes your f—in’ Buick!”). If his old-coot eccentricity wasn’t plain enough, his best friend is played by David Lynch. Stanton’s Lucky has lived his life on his own terms and he’s not about to change. But deep down he knows that the end is approaching, and for the first time he’s scared. Directed by another great character actor, John Carroll Lynch (Zodiac, American Horror Story), Lucky is an elegiac and ultimately affirming meditation on mortality, regret, and smiling through hardship. You couldn’t ask for a more poignant swan song from a more singular artist. B