Tuesday, June 19, 2007

LUCKY YOU - strangely unengaging

LUCKY YOU is a truly banal film. The movie is about a professional poker player called Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) struggling to a) get the entry money for the World Series of Poker b) defeat his estranged father, two-time world champion LC Cheever (Robert Duvall), and c) win the heart of pure-hearted singer Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore).

Each of these three story strands utterly fails to engage the audience. As each actor is gifted, I can only put this down to bad writing and direction. Curtis Hanson, who so skilfully directed LA CONFIDENTIAL, films the poker games in an entirely pedestrian style. He also fails to elicit memorable or even engaged performances from his lead actors. Hanson also fails to use his DP, Peter Deming, well. Consider that the same DP, working with David Lynch, created the unforgettable visuals of MULHOLLAND DRIVE. As a co-writer, Hanson has the bad fortune to be mixed up with screen-writer, Eric Roth. Roth is a serial offender, creating one bloated, over-complicated, banal script after another. I give you MUNICH, ALI, THE GOOD SHEPHERD, and THE HORSE WHISPERER as evidence. Here, Roth resorts to truly painful platitudes. At the key emotional moment of the film, he has Billie tell Huck: "You know what I think? I think that everyone's just trying not to be lonely." Ye Gods. L C Cheever tells his son Huck, "You got it backwards kid. You play cards the way you should lead your life. And you lead your life the way you should play cards." Such wisdom!

The final, fatal problem with this movie is that while there is too much poker for the uninitiated to deal with, for anyone with a passing interest in the game, the hands are either too dramatic and improbable, or too curtailed to be engaging.

Grim. With the exception of fascinating five minute cameo from Robert Downey Junior.

LUCKY YOU was released in the US, France, the Philippines, Australia, Portugal, Greece and Argentina earlier this year. It opens in Brazil, Italy, the UK and Japan this weekend. It opens in Germany on June 28th, in Belgium in Jly 18th and in Spain on July 27th 2007.

1 comment:

  1. I hear good things about this film, from movie-Matt of all people. But then, he knows just how much I like poker.