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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Toni Collette plays the lead role of Ellie, a music critic still living
in the shadow of her ex-boyfriend, emblematic musician Matthew Smith,
who disappeared ten years previous. Ellie still really is living as
though she's ten years in the past, and that includes not adapting to
the changing expectations of the magazine she works for, until she's
given an ultimatum to do a story on Smith, and the music impact he had.
She begins a search to see if he's out there, somewhere. Also featured
are up-and-coming musician Lucas, played by Ryan Eggold (who wrote and
sang his own songs), and one-time date Charlie (Thomas Haden Church).
I wasn't particularly impressed with Ellie as a character, her challenges she's facing certainly are the point of the film, but it was hard for me to really get by the number of chances it seems she gets, and some of what seems to be her more manipulative tendencies. That said, for that character, I do think Collette plays it well, just that there's parts of the character that were not so motivating. Lucas also feels like a bit too cliché of a character to feel particularly real.
Oddly, and certainly not something I'd expected when he first showed up, but for me Charlie quickly became the most interesting character. At first introduction, there's certainly a repellent vibe to him, but it gets developed more into an extreme social awkwardness and unawareness than maliciousness. He still doesn't quite strike me as pleasant, per se, but there's a personality to him from both the writing and Church's performance quickly makes him the most memorable character for me. His actions, his words, his personality all are very idiosyncratic but with an element of being genuine hinted at, but never fully convincingly there. It certainly does make him the character that held my interest best though.
The film feels like it makes some sudden stops and gos, with overly convenient plot turns, and a lot of side events that clutter the film, but don't quite seem to really add enough to the story to justify their inclusion, and there could've been a lot more included in there to flesh out Ellie's search for Matthew. I do like, though, that ultimately the film becomes more about if the search is worth it or not, or if ten years is long enough to let the past remain in the past or not. It's an interesting theme, and while I think the search isn't conducted consistently, thematically the film is always exploring if that search is worth it.
Lucky me because I found this great little gem entitled, Lucky Them. Toni Collette, plays a darker, humorous role of rocker mag. writer, Elle. She's not losing her edge as much as losing her eagerness to do anything meaningful, anymore. Along comes a story, that is, in part, her story. And, she must choose to visit a painful past relationship. For the trip she brings along a straight up, funny, straight man, Charlie, played by Thomas Haden Church. He is also searching for something gone missing in his life. Add to that a cast of minor characters that steal the show in nearly every scene. But, Toni holds the key to this movie and she never, ever disappoints.
Better than I thought it would be. But then, I've never seen anything
that features Toni Collette that I didn't enjoy. There's a very, very
small handful of screen actors that can breathe real life into any
character and she is among them.
Set in Seattle and actually filmed in Seattle rather than Vancouver, B.C. (how refreshing is that?), it's the story of a rock journalist who sleeps with every musician she covers, while still pining for the one she met and fell in love with in high school who mysteriously disappeared (or killed himself?) at the height of his success 10 years earlier, leaving her bereft and crushed.
When she screws up again on her latest piece, her editor assigns her a "this is your last chance or I'm going to have to let you go" story, which is to be about tracking down what happened to the mysterious, missing legendary rocker, her former lover.
As she reluctantly begins the quest she bumps into a man she very briefly "dated" previously (Haden Church), a tech bazillionaire who now aspires to be a documentary film maker. Through a mishap they become unlikely partners in her search, with him filming the progress.
The story is about their journey into the past and her finally letting go of the relationship that's still messing up her life 10 years on.
Now and again, with patience, a little gem comes across the video on
demand that somehow didn't make it in the theaters. This film was made
in 2013 and seems to be headed for a re- release. Don't wait. See it
now on video on demand courtesy of Amazon. It is a treat. Caroline
Sherman has the original idea for the story and it was adapted foe the
screen by Huck Botko and Emily Wachtel. Megan Griffiths directs with
Ellie Klug (the very fine Toni Collette) is a music critic for a failing rock magazine, SLAX' in Seattle headed by the pot-smoking Giles (Oliver Platt) in Seattle. She tends to write articles about not so talented music stars, such as street singer Lucas Stone (Ryan Eggold who is proving he can be more than a warped spy on TV's The Blacklist). They have casual sex but the rock around Ellie neck is an article she is forced to write about a famous rock star Matthew Smith who ha been missing since an apparent car wreck some years back, and who Ellie was in love with back in his heyday. She ultimately agrees to do a story (more like investigative journalism) mush at the insistence of her best friend, bar tender Dana (Nina Arianda). Lacking money to make a trip to Matthew Smith country, she borrows form Giles, is ripped off by Lucas, borrows from a very strange wealthy Charlie (Thomas Hayden Church) who wants to make a documentary on Ellie looking for Matthew Smith. How that all ends up is a study of the human psyches as attached to loves of the past and longings of the present but to tell more would be a spoiler. It should be added that Johnny Depp makes a very brief but central appearance .
The cast is exemplary, especially Toni Collette who at last has a role that allows her to show just what a fine comedienne as well as serious actress she is. Tune in to the video on demand offer Amazon presents no telling when they'll release a DVD of this treasureable film. Highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Toni Collette truly has a thousand faces. She can be the insecure
divorcée or the frumpy mum in A LONG WAY DOWN. And now she is this
character of the hip music critic who is still gorgeous at 40-something
and can shag a twenty-something with a just a flash of her smile as
bait. I'm not sure who has had more fun in the roles she has had
recently: Toni Collette or Julianne Moore. Ms. Moore starred in THE
KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT with Mark Ruffalo and in DON JON with Joseph
Gordon-Levitt. Whew! Let's hear it for women my age snagging awesome,
fun, and sexy roles that are still emotionally intelligent with depth
Collette's character, Ellie, is a music critic who has been in the business for a lifetime. As a youngster, she met and fell in love with an up and coming rock star, Matthew Smith, who made a significant impact upon the music scene. Unfortunately, he disappeared; an apparent suicide, but never found. Ellie, a good decade later, still trying to find the next upcoming star, is floundering in her job. She is assigned to investigate and find Matthew Smith who has been "spotted" performing not far from her location. Reluctantly, and under the "promise" of getting fired if she didn't conform, Ellie takes on this assignment with the a little help from her friends.
Ellie is a very complex character who wants nothing more than to be loved and to give love in return, but she has been burned too badly by Matthew. In her bar hopping search, she happens upon someone with promise, but her want of love supersedes her intellectual side. She begins a relationship with the unplugged guitar hero Lucas. But Ellie is Ellie: older, not necessarily wiser. And we watch as she makes one decision after another that are not necessarily good ones. With an old acquaintance who has more time and money on his hands than the Elton John, Ellie receives a bit of help with strings attached: Charlie is allowed to begin his documentary filmmaking career with the search for Matthew Smith. As Ellie is at her rope's end, she agrees. The story follows Ellie along this path of discovery with interesting side stories of love for herself as well as Charles' eccentricities.
This is a very entertaining film with such depth and creativity that I was captivated from the very beginning. Collette is wonderful. She is rock-solid gorgeous and believable as the hip music critic who has been jaded by love. Thomas Haden Church is a character I've not seen before. He is a pretentious, rich nerd who is rather desperate in the love department. In fact, he is rather blinded by love, but so innocent about it that his pretentiousness becomes endearing. Throw into the mix, Oliver Platt as the ever-loving editor and the film is perfectly set. With the self- discovery of our two main characters this film is completely satisfying.
The film, co-written by Huck Botko and Emily Wachtel with the original idea by Caroline Sherman, is directed by Megan Griffiths. It's a bit of a quirky film, tackling a familiar story in a unique and interesting way. Collette is an extremely versatile actress who continues to show her range of abilities and I'm guessing, is having a lot of fun doing so! The music is enticing and even enchanting at times to match the mood and fluctuations of the movie perfectly.
LUCKY THEM is a movie that will appeal to music lovers and film lovers alike. It's a strong cast with an equally powerful story. This film is recommended for over 20′s as I don't think the teen population would understand or relate to the topics. And if you're my age (40's) and female, you are going to love it! Cheers to Toni Collette!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The comedy-drama Lucky Them is helmed by three women working as the
director, co-writer, and star. The film first screened at the Toronto
International Film Festival in 2013. It was released in the US nine
months later. Comparatively, other films from the festival directed by
men including 12 Years a Slave,Philomena and Prisoners, were released
under three months later in the US. Why has it taken an additional year
and a half for this film, starring no less than two Oscar nominees in
Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Spider-Man 3), to be
released in Australia? Either the film isn't spectacular or it's
increasingly difficult for women to etch themselves into the film
market, currently dominated by men. Truthfully, it's a bit of both.
Ohio born filmmaker Megan Griffiths (pictured below), who directed the film, holds several accolades to her name including a B.A in visual communications and an MFA in Film Production from the Ohio University School of Film. She was named Emergent Narrative Female Director in 2011 and one of the Artists of the Year by City Arts magazine in Seattle. Griffiths directs the film from Emily Watchtel's semiautobiographical screenplay. Emily Watchtel co- wrote the film with Huck Botko but it's developed from her experiences of the music scene and dating. She told Indiewire she once interviewed celebrities, including musicians, and struggled as an actress. She intended the film to be a television show, reflecting its minor slice of life scale.
As a writer Watchel worked under the pseudonym Ellie Klug, the name of Collette's character. Ellie is a forty year old music critic, who drinks too much and is struggling to impress Giles (Oliver Platt), the editor of her print magazine. The publication is fading and to boost its interest again he wants her to write a story about a musician named Matthew Smith, who supposedly died going over a waterfall ten years ago. Smith was also Ellie's ex-boyfriend who walked out on her before the plunge. She offers a brutal, darkly funny assessment of him: "He's not dead, he's just an asshole who's gone." Meanwhile, Ellie's also caught between two men: Lucas (Ryan Eggold), a young musician who excites her frivolous side while she interviews him and Charlie (Haden Church), a rich, older but pompous goofball with no interest in music. She reluctantly pairs with Charlie after he lends her money and he films a documentary about their search for Matthew.
The film stylisations are limited to highly retro decor. There are neon signs and grainy, brown colour tones, which along with Ellie's love of old vinyl records, highlights a sense of nostalgia for the past. The film compliments its style thematically through a tug of war between the past and the present of Ellie's life, not dissimilar to films like The Skeleton Twins, Young Adult and Greenberg. The narrative type is a belated coming of age story, where a person edging closer to middle age must relinquish their grip on the past. For these characters it is pleasurable to be young again, holding onto the memories of bad relationships, and shielding themselves from the shallowness of their present day lives. The film is also about her unlikely relationship with two men: one too young for the long haul and the other pulling her closer to the reality of aging.
Watchel's humorous script is easy to digest but has contrivances, like the way Ellie loses the money first given to her by her boss and a light bulb moment near the end. The side characters are also weakly drawn and unevenly directed. Lucas, with spiked hair, v-neck shirts and guitar ballads, is rendered like Ellie's dream guy or someone from a band poster. Thomas Haden Church is funny as Charlie but the part is written and played very broadly and more suited to a caricature from a sitcom like The Office. The same is true of his hippy girlfriend who appears briefly. Quirkiness from these characters is pleasurable but along with the nostalgic yearnings it subdues the risk or danger from the middle act. Only by the last portion can see how destructive Ellie's actions are towards others. Toni Collette brings an enjoyable leading presence. Her hardened cheekbones and slightly gaunt face are physical attributes befitting of Ellie's slightly edgy lifestyle and her mannerisms like eye-rolling and smirks aptly signpost her character's immaturity. Although I laughed several times at the cast's low-key humour, this isn't exactly new or daring material when films are desperately in need of fresh voices.
Came across this on one of the premium channels on cable. Liked the
looks of the cast, and it was just starting (as opposed to most movies
I come across on the premium channels, which are usually in progress
when I find them), so decided to watch. It was excellent. Toni Collette
does great as usual, and Hayden-Church, playing somewhat of a variation
of his 'Sideways' character, provides most of the comic relief and a
great companion to Collette's more serious role. All of the characters
had some likable qualities and were overall decent people, and I
enjoyed the story as well.
I had no idea what to expect from this, but it did remind me of 'Sideways,' one of my all time favorites, in that it featured a couple of 'pals' (or acquaintances anyway) going on an adventure and encountering some interesting characters and situations along the way. Well worth an evening's viewing.
This movie is for those people who love independent films that drench
the viewer in character emotion and situational drama. You feel this is
an indie film from the early beginning..why ? because it focuses on
humanity and all of that which is the situational character (of the
characters if you need more t understand that point).
..Hollywood simply doesn't do these lovely things because tweenies buy movie tickets.. henceHollywood does BOOMS and POWS and boobs..with little to no plot..it often makes me ill how terrible Hollywood has become..Hollywood forgot that this is an Artform to tell stories.
Megan Griffiths, I had never heard her name before, but I will certainly be looking out for her name in years to come and will be looking to view her older films. I am an indie film lover, because in 2015, you have to watch indie films to get characters and story and plot that wasn't drawn by Stan Lee. ..and that is what Megan has done very well in this, brought great actors in niche roles that highlight and buff this dramatic off-ended comedy into a pearl. If anyone says this is a bad film, they're clearly a knucklehead.
Toni's character pulls you in with her "struggling to survive and find her ground" selfishness that is her defensive line to her rough edged existence of unknowingly battling with her own demons, all while you see her soft spots rise to the surface for her to recognize and then behold in dramatic effort to eventually make her whole once again.
As I said before; each actor, niche like, made this come to life. - Like a good book on a rainy day. Megan Griffiths, Thank You. To the cast & crew as well; thank you all. ;)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lucky Them is a film I cannot stop thinking about. You could say it is a cautionary tale of what not to do with your career and personal life once you hit 40. However, Ellie Klug's flawed character beautifully portrayed by Toni Collette shows the audience that no matter how much Ellie screws up, she still manages to attract a young, hot musician, Lucas Stone played by the yummy Ryan Eggold. Ellie will land on her feet once she lets her guard down among her most loyal friends. Her hard edges eventually soften with Charlie, a guy she dated a couple of times and co-pilot on her assignment to find Matthew Smith, an elusive Seattle Rock Star who disappeared 10 years ago. Thomas Haden Church's monotone funny character portrayal of Charlie is hilarious. You want more of his character in every frame. The writing is funny and brilliant in a way in which it compels you to love these soggy Seattleites. Especially some guy at the end of the film, whom we all would love to grab a latte and listen to the soundtrack of Lucky Them together. I love this movie and highly recommend seeing it definitely worth the price of the ticket!
Lucky Them was filmed in and around Seattle, and is lacking the
obligatory shots of the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and ferries
crossing the sound. Usually those scenes are meant to make a film look
like it's in Seattle, but really being filmed in Vancouver and I find
Toni Collette plays Ellie, a music critic for the print magazine Stax. Her job keeps her out late at night visiting Seattle's music clubs, drinking too much and often leaving with a cute young musician. At one time she was in a long term relationship with alt-rock star Matthew Smith, who went missing 10 years ago and is presumed to have ended his life by jumping at Snoqualmie Falls. Many of his fans believe he is still alive and keep a website listing sightings.
Oliver Platt plays Giles, the editor in chief at Stax. He has the brilliant idea of a 10 year anniversary of the disappearance of Matthew Smith as a big feature story in Stax and gives the assignment to Ellie, who is not so keen on digging up old personal history. Giles makes it clear that her job is on the line if she doesn't produce.
Ellie is out covering the music scene one night when she runs into an old acquaintance Charlie, played by Thomas Haden Church. Charlie is a dot.com millionaire, with plenty of money and time. Recently he has been taking documentary film making classes at a local community college. He agrees to help her in the search for Matthew Smith if he can make a documentary film of her in the process. And so the fun begins! Everyone should have their own Thomas Haden Church sidekick!
The story is intriguing enough without being overly complicated to keep me interested in the outcome.Is Matthew Smith still alive? Will they find him? All I will say is the ending is brilliant and perfect!
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