Is "Lucky" Harry Dean Stanton doing Harry Dean Stanton? Well, maybe, but it may not be as effortless as it appears in John Carroll Lynch's coolly composed slice-of-life/character study/life-and-death deadpan deliberation (with a few cacti on view) that pays tribute to the consummate character actor akin to Sam Elliott's waning Western star in Hero (2017).
An undervalued Stanton (originally from Kentucky) died on September 15th in L.A. at 91 and is the eponymous character in a likably loopy and sardonic Lucky playing a droopy, weathered nonagenarian going through a very measured, methodical existence on the fringes of the Arizona desert.
A recent collapse hasn't fazed someone almost very emaciated before his face appears as Carroll Lynch (remembered as Marge's hubby in Fargo) gradually reveals a man and thespian who's sadly become a relic and irrelevant in a millennium consumed by sophisticated technology and instant-messaging.
Despite his heavy use of tobacco, a steadfast walker and yoga patron is in decent health according to his physician (Ed Begley Jr.) outlasting his contemporaries. Game shows and crossword puzzles are part of his agenda, not to mention visits to coffee shops and the local tavern. There he enjoys adult beverages with an old nattily-dressed buddy Howard (a swell David Lynch, yes, the sometime actor who has directed Stanton in a number of his films including Wild At Heart and The Straight Story- which featured another late, great character actor, Richard Farnsworth). Howard's looking for "Pres. Roosevelt" who happens to be a tortoise.
For those not prepared for what may be a semi-biographical glimpse the proceedings could be tryingly uneventful, but Carroll Lynch makes it oddly beatific. Perhaps being in the presence of an irascible if vulnerable sort as the tale meanders with a little serenade and finally an epiphany could be considered a tad cloying and self-indulgent.
But, with a fine ensemble including Tom Skerritt (regaling Pacific war stories; Stanton was a U.S. Navy cook besides being Skerritt's co-star in Alien), Barry Shabka Henley, Beth Grant (a sassy barmaid), and James Darren, one can envision how the actor in Paris, Texas, Escape From New York, and even The Avengers (among a hundred filmic appearances) has been so beloved by so many (especially his peers) for so long who've been lucky enough to experience his craftsmanship. And, likewise for a jaded, but tirelessly persistent performer taking a well-deserved cinematic bow.