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Fantasia Fest Review: 'Lucky' tackles a complex problem

It struggles with that problem, but ultimately ends up being a satisfying watch.

May (Brea Grant) prepares to bind her attacker.
(Image: © Epic Studios)

Our Verdict

'Lucky' tackles complicated subject matter to varying degrees of success.

For

  • 🔹Gorgeous and relevant set design.
  • 🔹Good kill shots.
  • 🔹Every detail matters.
  • 🔹Appropriately spooky antagonist.

Against

  • 🔹Acknowledges white feminism but doesn't confront it.
  • 🔹A section of the plot and questions of May's sanity weaken the story.

At first glance, Natasha Kermani’s Lucky appears to be your standard, run of the mill home invasion flick. It only takes several minutes before you realize that isn’t quite the case. The script, penned by lead actress Brea Grant, will then take the viewer on a ride that has them searching for hidden meaning and wondering just how sane our protagonist may be.

We start with May Ryer (Brea Grant) in a meeting with her agent. The self-help author is informed that her books aren’t moving as well as they’d like, but to start thinking up ideas for the next one anyway. There’s an air of “you should be thankful for what you have,” surrounding the whole conversation. May returns home to her husband, Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh), the two watch some TV over a pint of ice cream, and then they head to bed. Their relationship appears loving enough, if not a bit strained, but marriages get strained all the time. Basically, you think nothing of it.

And then the man appears in their yard.

When May frantically wakes up her sleeping husband, he calmly tells her that “it’s the man who comes to kill us every night,” as if it’s all no big deal. The man breaks in, there’s a scuffle, Ted eventually hits him over the head, and he disappears before the police have a chance to arrive. Once the police do make it to the Ryer household, Ted speaks for the couple. He lets the cops know that they’ve never seen this man before (despite his earlier blasé reaction to someone being there to murder them) and his confused wife corroborates out of solidarity.

If you feel like you’re being gaslit, strap in. That feeling will continue throughout the film, both out of sympathy for May’s character and frustration over trying to grasp what’s real and what isn’t. After some sleep, May and Ted have a fight over last night’s interaction. Citing an inability to “deal with her” when she’s “acting like this,” Ted up and leaves. Somehow, everything that’s just been outlined occurs in the first fifteen minutes of the film.

Though she’s abandoned by her husband, May will receive offers to help from several members of her community. Her assistant (Yasmine Al-Bustami) comes to her first, followed closely by her sister-in-law (Kausar Mohammed), but both are turned away. The very subject of May’s books is to “remain calm and go it alone,” after all. Her insistence on handling things on her own only grows after being met by severe incompetence from her local police department.

Much to her frustration, May is constantly told how lucky she is by everyone around her. Lucky for her book deal, lucky she survived, lucky her distributor is giving her another chance... you get the picture. It takes a while for her to break and insist just how unlucky she is, but her insistence falls on deaf ears for more reasons than are readily apparent in the narrative as it’s seen at the time.

Hiding in Lucky is an imperfect conversation about white feminism and a scathing indictment of what happens when you don’t help your fellow woman. It acknowledges men’s unlimited access while women are dismissed, and the never-ending fight women are forced to have every single day just to stay alive, let alone play on an even field. Unfortunately, there’s also a sub plot that doesn’t need to be there, a few questions unanswered regarding sanity, and a frustrating lack of acknowledgement and awareness from its protagonist.

That critique in mind, the film is also beautifully shot and rocks some absolutely stunning set design. Lucky is the type of movie where every small detail matters. Everything in May’s home is blue, signaling to a depression or sadness that she’s not willing to share with the world. She’s constantly surrounded by angles and shattered fragments, hinting at something not being quite right in her world. Each frame of the film is a concentrated choice to build towards its message. Not all of those choices are going to work for everyone, but overall the film hits its mark. Even if it does hit it a little shakily.

Lucky is a part of our Fantasia Festival 2020 coverage.