If you’re a fan of Cameron Crowe's cult hit ‘Almost Famous’, you should be pleased with director Megan Griffith’s new film, ‘Lucky Them.’
Ellie Klug (Toni Collette) is a music journalist still damaged by the disappearance of her boyfriend, successful musician Matthew, 10 years ago. Her editor assigns her the difficult task of writing about Matthew; she doesn’t want to, but her job is on the line. Wealthy wannabe filmmaker Charlie (Thomas Haden Church) joins her as she attempts to find out what happened to Matthew, and perhaps rid herself of her attachment to him.
Toni Collette is amazing in this; she carries this film all on her own. Not to fault her supporting cast, who all turn in great performances, but it’s Collette’s show, and she shines. Ellie is messed up, and she knows it, but doesn't know what to do about, or if she could even be bothered, and Collette inhabits the character entirely. She’s relatable, unfathomable and understandable, and completely human. Haden Church is very good as oblivious Charlie, who is a decent guy who simply has no idea how to relate to ordinary people. Oliver Platt plays the asshole editor well, tough but with a kind underbelly, while Ryan Eggold (‘Entourage’) as Ellie’s love interest Lucas is just adorable. Rounding out the cast is Nina Arianda (‘The Good Wife’) as Ellie’s best friend Dana, who isn’t afraid to call Ellie on her bullshit.
There’s something hopeless but hopeful about Ellie’s search for Matthew. Part of her is convinced he’s alive, while the other half doesn’t really want him to be, because of what that will mean for her and her life. This is a story about how we all have that someone who lights a fire in us that can’t be quenched, that someone who’ll stay with us forever, while never actually being with us at all... and what we’ll do to keep that feeling, or destroy it.
Like ‘Almost Famous’, this is a film about growing up, and about coming to terms with life and love. It’s also pretty funny. It’s a journey of self-discovery, but unlike other films of that sort, it’s not preachy, and the character is as deeply flawed as any of us could be. While Ellie herself is a bit of a cliché - a woman refusing to acknowledge that she’s been left behind in her refusal to move on - you can forgive her for it. Her interactions with Charlie and Dana tell more about her character than her interactions with her lovers.
This is a film about growing up, and about coming to terms with life and love.
The soundtrack is epic, full of indie and alternate rock tracks that both set the mood and tell Ellie’s story. Cinematography is rather excellent; the film has a gritty, dark feel, which at times seems to mellow out into something smooth and quiet. Directing and editing take a back seat to letting Collette loose with telling Ellie’s story, and that’s a good thing and a real testament to the actress’s skill.
All in all, ‘Lucky Them’ is a poignant, hopeful film, about how our demons don’t have to define us, and there is always room to grow.