Review: Stanton receives fitting farewell in ‘Lucky’

Harry Dean Stanton, who died last month at age 91, says goodbye in this lovely, low-key drama

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Harry Dean Stanton gets a loving send-off in “Lucky,” a movie that sets its pace and tone with its opening scene in which a tortoise slowly walks across the dusty frame.

Stanton — the hard-leathered American actor who died last month at the ripe-old age of 91 — plays Lucky, a desert dweller who survives on a steady routine of diner visits, game shows and trips to his local bar.

Not much happens in “Lucky,” but there’s plenty going on in this character study from John Carroll Lynch, the everyman actor of perpetual “oh, that guy!” status, perhaps best known as the suspected Zodiac killer in David Fincher’s “Zodiac.”

More than anything, it’s a tribute to Stanton, who wore each of his 91 years in the deep crevasses on his long face, in his weathered voice and on his frail frame.

Others get a chance to shine, as well. David Lynch — who cast Stanton in several projects, including this year’s “Twin Peaks” revival — gets to share screen time with his pal as Howard, a bar patron and friend of Lucky’s whose pet tortoise, named (in perfect Lynch fashion) President Roosevelt, escapes his home.

Tom Skerritt also gets an extended monologue where his character gets to recall a haunting military memory. No one’s in any hurry here.

“Lucky” has the loose feel of one of Jim Jarmusch’s conversational jawns, where mood and atmosphere takes precedence over plot mechanics.

When Johnny Cash’s cover of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s “I See a Darkness” comes over the soundtrack, it’s a fitting final walk for Stanton, and the fond farewell this unique American icon deserves.

(313) 222-2284




Not rated: language, smoking

Running time: 88 minutes