×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lucky Days

An eccentric ride through the ethno-cultural amusement park of a conjured-up Coney Island.

With:
With: Angelica Torn, Federico Castelluccio, Marilyn Sokol, Tina Benko, Anne Jackson, Rip Torn, Will Patton, Luke Zarzecki.

An eccentric ride through the ethno-cultural amusement park of a conjured-up Coney Island, “Lucky Days” serves primarily as a showcase for the formidable talents of Angelica Torn, who wrote, co-directed (with brother Tony) and stars as a character who’s a mix of Cinderella, Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett and Natalie Woods’ Daisy Clover. A limited theatrical run begins Aug. 6 at Brooklyn’s IndieScreen, and while general auds may be put off by the odd nature of the work, it should have a healthy, cultish afterlife for the very same reason.

Paul Newman, credited here as “producer emeritus,” apparently threw his moral/financial support behind Torn, the daughter of longtime Newman friends Rip Torn and Geraldine Page. One can see why the central character might have engaged the late actor: Virginia (Angelica Torn) is all things to all people, except herself. It’s she who cares for an extended family that includes her mother (an unhinged Marilyn Sokol), the mute Bobo (Rip Torn), her stripper sister Nina (Tina Benko, in a hot-pink wig) and Nina’s various children, including triplets (all played by Miranda Torn). Next door is Virginia’s putative fiance of 18 years, Vincent (Federico Castelluccio, “The Sopranos”) whose mother (Anne Jackson) hates Virginia, either because she’s a Russian Jew, or because she’s not Italian. Virginia’s Olympian efforts to be Italian include creating a marinara sauce that satisfies her would-be in-laws, which, as anyone might guess, is an exercise akin to rolling a big rock of parmesan up a tall hill.

Like the Coney Island in which it’s set, the film recalls the past — not just in the characters Angelica Torn has written, but in the shooting and editing; the abrupt cuts and isolated closeups that open the film evoke ’40s film noir as well as the faux-doc effects of Morris Engel (whose landmark “Little Fugitive” was also shot in Coney Island).

The style perfectly suits the film, which depicts a beach resort frozen in its memories, warped in its nostalgia and regressive in its thinking: Virginia is denied sex by her longtime noncommittal beau, who considers her too special to be defiled, but not too special to be slapped. The worldviews, rooted here in an Italian universe of princely sons and imperial mothers, verges on the anachronistic, but “Lucky Days” is a fable, and broad characterizations are the stuff of even morbid fairy tales.

Leading a top-flight cast, Angelica Torn is terrific as Virginia, who, driven by her traditional upbringing to view Vincent less as a man than as a mountain that must be conquered, lives for others, nursing a few unlikely dreams. She works as an attendant at a long-term care facility, for instance, but wants to be a doctor. And she maintains a self-discipline that reassures her she’s really not like everyone else in the ‘hood: She doesn’t drink, she pretends not to smoke and she doesn’t think about sex (and when she does, she takes an ice bath). She succumbs to all these vices by movie’s end, including a tryst with the long-ago boyfriend, Zeth (Luke Zarzecki), who comes back into her life and, as itinerant/romantic movie men tend to, knocks her off her unsteady perch.

Production values are uneven, but Christopher North’s music reps a notable asset.

Popular on Variety

Lucky Days

Production: A Seminal Films presentation in association with Torn Page Prods. Produced by Luke Zarzecki. Executive producers, Angelica Torn, Rip Torn, Jacqueline Guttman, Rui DaSilva, Mathius Mack Gertz. Producer emeritus, Paul Newman. Directed by Angelica Torn, Tony Torn. Screenplay, Angelica Torn.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Nils Kenaston; editors, Los Tres Amigos; music, Christopher North; sound, Noah Mitchell, Richard Chardinsky; associate producers, Laurance W. Gay, Sky Heussenstamm, Barbara Ligeti. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Aug. 4. 2010. Running time: 103 MIN.

With: With: Angelica Torn, Federico Castelluccio, Marilyn Sokol, Tina Benko, Anne Jackson, Rip Torn, Will Patton, Luke Zarzecki.

More Film

  • Rambo Last Blood

    Film Review: 'Rambo: Last Blood'

    Home has always been an abstract concept for John Rambo, which is what the last scene of 2008’s otherwise expendable “Rambo” sequel finally gave the iconic Sylvester Stallone character: a moment when this unsettled Vietnam War survivor, looking very much the worse for wear, lumbers up to a mailbox bearing the character’s surname. At last, [...]

  • Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith. Jada

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's Westbrook Inks Development Pact With Telepool (EXCLUSIVE)

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s new media venture, Westbrook Inc., has signed a co-development agreement for feature films, television shows and digital entertainment formats with German-based film and TV company Telepool. The move follows the acquisition of Telepool last year by Smith and Elysian Fields, a Zurich-based investment company. Westbrook, launched this year by [...]

  • There's Something in the Water

    Toronto Film Review: 'There’s Something in the Water'

    Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the unpleasant sights, smells and pollutants of industry have typically been located where the poor folk dwell, and police society needn’t notice. With the dawn of popular environmental consciousness about a half-century ago, it became clear that toxic byproducts with a dismayingly long shelf life and unknown (or, [...]

  • 'David Foster: Off the Record' Review:

    Toronto Film Review: 'David Foster: Off the Record'

    By the early 1970s, as the counterculture was dissolving and reconfiguring, there were new pop-star archetypes on the horizon that we still tend to think of — the glam rocker, the sensitive singer-songwriter, the hair-band metal strutter, the prog-rock wizard, the belting pop chanteuse, the punk rocker. But there was another figure of the era [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Bob Iger Would Have Combined Disney With Apple if Steve Jobs Were Still Alive

    Disney and Apple are both launching their own streaming services come November, but Disney CEO Bob Iger says the two companies weren’t always on competing paths. In an excerpt from his autobiography published Wednesday in “Vanity Fair,” Iger revealed that Disney and Apple likely would have merged if Steve Jobs hadn’t died in 2011. “I [...]

  • Aaron Janus Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Hires 'A Quiet Place' Producer Aaron Janus as Senior VP of Production

    Lionsgate has hired Aaron Janus as its new senior vice president of production and promoted Meredith Wieck to the post of vice president of production.  Prior to Lionsgate, Janus served as Platinum Dunes’ head of development, where he oversaw filmmakers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Michael Bane. There, he brought in “A Quiet Place,” on [...]

  • Ang Lee Reveals First Look at

    Ang Lee on 'Gemini Man' and De-Aging Will Smith

    On paper, Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is a standard-issue, shoot ’em up with Will Smith playing a deadly assassin who must battle a younger clone of himself. The explosions and gun battles aren’t what drew Lee to the project, even if they’re the reason that most people will show up at theaters when it opens [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content