I think misleading others – not necessarily being lied to – is the fool’s way of making a point he perhaps knows isn’t valid, but he requires the cloak of subterfuge to be heard. Rather than put some additional thought into presenting a more cogent argument, the charlatan couches his rhetoric in a distraction he trusts will best conceal his true intentions so as to be heard by the widest, least informed audience possible. His premise is still riddled with flaws, but the best carnival barkers long ago learned the easiest way to separate a fool from his money is to master the classic bait-and-switch.
Alas, storytellers do this all the time. In fact, some of them are downright magical at it. And the movie industry? They practically require it for participation. From the top – the Harvey Weinsteins who are secretly committed to furthering their sexual fantasies on the young and unsuspecting – to the bottom – the accountants who must make a losing proposition resemble a California goldmine – are all schooled in the art of trickery, promising you one thing while delivering another. This is why I’ve always cautioned readers to resist that pull on their heartstrings most coming attractions make because promoters are in the business of putting your butt in a seat, and I’ve learned that they’ll say anything to do it. Why? Because it’s their job.
So I approached Lucky like I do any picture: with modest trepidation. It’s adverts and even its box art promised “a thrilling time-loop mystery.” And, yes, it’s coming attraction promised the kind of curious, layered, ‘what if’ scenario many of us love to uncover. Could it be that we have another Rod Serling or M. Night Shyamalan in-the-making? Are we on the cusp of an all-new thinking man’s mystery box that’ll revolutionize once more how cinematic yarns are crafted? Will we sit there and be waiting on bated breath until the very last scene, only then knowing for certain that we’ve found the one true Ark of the Covenant?
Honestly, you’ll be Lucky if you make it through this politically driven drivel without demanding your money back.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “Like takes a sudden turn for May, a popular self-help book author, when she finds herself the target of a mysterious man with murderous intentions. Every night without fail, he comes after her, and every day the people around her barely seem to notice. With no one to turn to, May is pushed to her limits and must take matters into her own hands to survive and to regain control of her life.”
Following the Golden Rule, I make it a rule to find something positive to say about a film; and Lucky has a few good scenes – all of them involving May’s ‘assaults.’ It’s clear to me that both director Natasha Kermani and screenwriter/actress Brea Grant were trying to tap into some serious horror tropes in their creepy thriller. In fact, those sequences that work best here, presenting the audience with a real world and relatable challenge for the script’s sometimes over- sometimes under-achiever May to prove she has ‘the right stuff’ to survive. That’s the appeal of slasher flicks to begin with – will she or won’t she – and great pains were taken (pun intended) to put those chills on the silver screen.
Alas, what is the average viewer to make of it when it’s all reduced to some aggressive ‘we must hate all men’ screed?
May has surrounded herself with, essentially, useless men. (Women, too, but do those matter here? It would seem not.) Every one of them appears to be casting doubts on her and her abilities to achieve success (in whatever goal she’s seeking); and while she’s been professionally committed to ‘Go It Alone’ – the title of her maybe, maybe-not popular self-help book – she fails (apparently) to put those lessons to good use in her private life. She’s at her best when she’s telling others what to think, and that would appear to be the case with director Kermani and scripter Grant.
It’s become the norm to blame everyone else for your problems. May has many of them – she never quite appears committed to her book (people aren’t buying it as they used to so she’s less interested in selling it), her husband (she’s been unfaithful), her marriage (husband Ted comes and goes as he pleases), her home (there are broken things found everywhere – hint, hint) – and rather than pick herself up by her own bootstraps she looks to everyone else to properly diagnose and manage her shortcomings. Yes, hers is the tactic of the psychologically weak, but what’s a woman (living in a man’s world) supposed to do?
Much like those involved with Lucky have had to do – namely advertise this dud as something it’s not – May isn’t content in putting in the hard work required to be a personal success. It’s easier to dupe others and apologize after the fact … except, apparently, women don’t apologize.
While it might be a hard truth to swallow, I’ve always tried to live by the adage “bad people make bad decisions.” Now, this doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be helped because I think anyone needing help should get it. And it also doesn’t mean that a good person will only make a good decision: rather, I like to think that a good person needs to forever be on the lookout for those who mislead him from a true and proper course for fear of starting down a less-than-fruitful path. Help others when you can, but if you cannot strive toward positivity – a frame of mind which actually takes effort – then be prepared for life’s shortcomings. They’ll find you. They’ll hurt you. Such is the way of nature.
May’s creators would have you believe that a woman faces only a constant uphill battle. Is that true? I can’t say because I’m a man and such a conclusion wouldn’t be prudent. What I can say is that May appears to have surrounded herself with takers and not givers. This is why she’s always defending herself not only from her attacker but also those tasked with aiding her after the attack. The fact that these are, mostly, men shouldn’t go unnoticed by the audience; I suspect that’s what everyone involved here intended. We’ve grown up in an era when ‘men are bad’ has become the feminist mantra … and yet the women telling this story are content to pull the bait-and-switch probably because they feel (as women) it’s been pulled on them since childbirth. What’s good for the goose – as they say – is good for the gander.
Well, none of us can help how we were born. Whether that’s male or female – whether that’s straight or gay – whether that’s big or small – we’re all brought into this world with the same guarantee, namely that it’s up to you to make of it what you will. If you’re on the look-out, I’ve no doubt that you’ll find some cheaters and swindlers; those types are also doing what they can with whatever talents they’ve groomed. But if you are looking out? Why not seek out those with a desire to help you be better than you already are? Granted, those folks may be a bit harder to spot – nobody ever said life would be easy – but if you can find them then hold on to them for dear life.
Besides, the one man in May’s life who appears honestly interested in her and is visibly trying to help her – her manager or publicist (it’s unclear, much like a lot in here) – she repeatedly IGNORES. Perhaps she should’ve spent a bit more time examining everyone around her instead of just those trying to hurt her, and maybe May would’ve known just how lucky it is to have, at least, one friend … instead of an awful lot of bottled-up hate.
As much as it is an adjective, ‘Lucky’ is still a word. Here, it’s a metaphor, a sarcastic and satirical one … but I suspect May has no idea how lucky the gift of life truly is. Her story is the kind of film critics love and regular folks – like me – find unrelatable. It’s demonstrative of the divide in our great nation. So long as the elites think this way? Nothing will change.
After all, it was their class who created, coddled, and cajoled Harvey Weinstein … not mine.
Lucky (2021) is produced by Epic Pictures Group. DVD distribution for this release is being handled by the same. As for the technical specifications? All is good. The audio dipped a bit here and there, but the film is populated by a lot of silence (such is the nature of building tension in some sequences), and I’d chalk it up to that. As for the special features? The disc boasts a filmmakers commentary track and a behind-the-scenes photo gallery.
It’s hard to honestly give Lucky a recommendation. First, it’s pacing is atrocious: viewers accept a slow set-up in perhaps every picture they view, but this one – after presenting a solid hook – does absolutely nothing with it. Second, the writer and director conceal a simplistic social commentary (“men bad, women good”) in the vein of a M. Night Shyamalan thriller yet without offering any narrative payoff (again, just “men bad, women good”). Lastly, even as an indie feature – which I normally love – the performances are tired and predictable – much like the film’s hyped ‘time loop’ – with no one bringing anything new to the game.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Shudder and Epic Pictures Group provided me with a DVD of Lucky (2021) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.