|Courtesy of CAVU Pictures|
2014, 94 minutes
Rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content
Review by Joshua Handler
Robert Nathan’s Lucky Bastard is one of the best found footage movies I’ve seen in ages because it actually feels real. From the acting to the writing to the cinematography, most everything was convincing. The film starts with police investigating the aftermath of a gruesome group of murders and then goes back to tell the story of how those murders happened. Ashley Saint (Betsey Rue) is a porn star who works for Mike (Don McManus). Mike decides to hold a contest to find a new guy for a new “Lucky Bastard” video in a which fan gets to have sex with Ashley. They pick Dave (Jay Paulson), a nice but slightly odd man. As Dave continues to spend time with the crew waiting for his big scene, things start to turn hostile.
Rue, McManus, and Paulson all turn in natural performances. Found footage films are frequently hurt by poor acting and usually aren’t helped by shoddy screenplays. However, Lukas Kendall’s screenplay for the film isn’t that far-fetched and features realistic dialogue. The conversations that happen between characters feel so real that I actually forgot I was watching a movie for a good portion of Lucky Bastard.
Though this film features an abundance of sex, it isn’t exploitative. Lucky Bastard’s nonchalant treatment of the sex is refreshing. In these peoples’ worlds, it’s part of everyday life. The disturbing violence of the last 30 minutes isn’t exploitative per se, but it does go overboard. It occasionally looks extremely fake too (I assume the budget was extremely low so that might explain the fakeness).
When things go awry in the last third of Lucky Bastard, it becomes intense. Frequently found footage movies fizzle at the end, but this one doesn’t. While the last third isn’t quite as interesting as what came before, it is still quite good and an impressive piece of directing.
Overall, Lucky Bastard is an entertaining, disturbing, and well-made look at a taboo subject. I love films that come out of nowhere. I’ll admit, I had never heard of Lucky Bastard before looking at what movies were coming soon to theaters on Rotten Tomatoes a few weeks ago. The 100% score it then had combined with the NC-17 rating intrigued me, and I’m thrilled I got the opportunity to see this film. The New York premiere will be held this weekend at Cinema Village where the crew will be introducing the film and conducting Q&As throughout the weekend. This is the film no one knows about but should - a hidden gem.