Monday, May 19, 2014

“Lucky Them”– Movie Review




This weekend in my movie class, we had a bonus screening of the drama “Lucky Them” , starring Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church and Oliver Platt.


When a rock music critic researches an article about a long-missing musician who is also her ex-boyfriend, will she succeed in finding him – and does she really want to find him in the first place?


Ellie Klug (Collette) is a respected long-time rock music journalist based in Seattle. As a staff writer for Stax magazine, her editor Giles (Platt) has placed a huge burden on her shoulders: in order to prop up the sagging readership of their magazine, he wants her to see if she can locate Matthew Smith, a one-time rock star particularly popular in the Seattle area. Smith completely dropped out of the scene approximately 20 years ago without any word or warning and many have presumed him dead, possibly by suicide. What complicates matters for Ellie is that Smith is also her ex-boyfriend.

Finding the research daunting on her own, Ellie enlists the aid of Charlie (Church), a wealthy acquaintance whom she also briefly dated once. Charlie, a man of many interests who possesses a personality that’s simultaneously entrepreneurial and obnoxious, agrees to loan her money to assist Ellie’s research. However, there are strings attached: Ellie must allow Charlie to accompany her so he can videotape her adventure to turn it into a documentary. Desperate, Ellie agrees to his conditions and they hit the road to seek people who may be only remotely aware of possible leads to Smith’s whereabouts.

Some leads turn out to be useless while others more promising. Meanwhile, new potential romances appear as though they may be blossoming: Ellie meets Lucas (Ryan Eggold) an aspiring young musician who’s struggling to make ends meet until his career takes off; Charlie has met a spacey young woman whose relationship has been put on the fast track – after a brief courtship, they become engaged and plan to marry. Upon resuming their search, Charlie and Ellie come upon a lead that looks as though it may actually pan out. But now that she’s encountered the reality of confronting her ex-beau, will Ellie follow-through, despite any ramifications this might have on each other’s’ life?


It appears that the moral to the fable in “Lucky Them” (and why that title?) is to stop wallowing in unresolved issues from your past else you’ll waste your present and neglect your future; by the movie’s end, it seems to make this point rather clearly. However, in wrapping up the story, it appears to be opening up the possibility of yet another romantic entanglement for Ellie; the choice here doesn’t make sense. Possibly this is intended to show that Ellie will continue to make the same mistakes of picking the wrong boyfriends, but it’s not entirely clear. If that’s not what the film is trying to convey, then we’re left to believe Ellie is winding up with someone who is not entirely deserving of her.

How sympathetic is Ellie as the protagonist? On the one hand, she’s an admired rock critic of long standing and great repute; on the other hand, the fact that she doesn’t exhibit the most mature behavior in either her personal or professional life. Ellie’s notorious for sleeping with many of her interviewees, which may not exactly be the most ethical behavior; add to that her indulgence in various substances, possibly to excess, and general careless, reckless actions which impact others to varying degrees. It begs the question of why we should bother rooting for her at all? Ellie might be an anti-hero, but doing so can be dangerous. How much stupid behavior by your protagonist can an audience tolerate before they stop caring about her altogether?

“Lucky Them” played here in New York City during the recent Tribeca Film Festival, but I wasn’t able to catch it at that time. In the end titles, “Lucky Them” is dedicated to the late actor, Paul Newman; his widow, Joanne Woodward, is credited as an Executive Producer on the film. Apparently, the story behind this is that Newman had originally planned to produce (and possibly appear in) this movie, but he passed away before having the chance. Eventually, Woodward resumed the project. One curiosity about the motion picture is the big reveal of Matthew Smith near the end; the character is played by a major Hollywood star listed in the credits; this is something of a spoiler, so it’s a little unclear why he’s mentioned since it somewhat gives away the ending.

  Lucky Them (2013) on IMDb


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