CATEGORIES Documentary, Sundance, Theatrical Reviews, Festival Reports, Reviews, Sundance Film Festival, Cinematical
Ever wonder what happens to a lottery winner after he or she wins $2, $20, or (gasp) $200 million? You can be sure that filmmaker Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound) has considered the question, because his latest documentary is all about that. Entitled Lucky, it's a slick and simple "human interest" sort of documentary (not unlike Spellbound) that may not shock you or change your world view -- but hell, it's pretty interesting to see what happens after a middle-class family wins $314 million.
Unfortunately, Lucky doesn't have the built-in charm that the young spelling bee contestants brought to Spellbound. The jackpot winners we meet are: a cranky old man who blew through his millions depressingly quick, a family of four, a Vietnamese immigrant who hit the numbers with seven co-workers, a grimy sadsac, and a mathematician. We also visit with a woman who happily drops $70 per day on lottery tickets ... but Lucky seems a bit more interested in the happy endings than the dour ones.
Frankly, the older gentleman -- the one who once saved a child from a burning building before winning the lottery and losing it all -- could have made for a much more interesting feature. And to the director's credit, he's the one who gets the most screen time. His stories of sibling-hired assassins and spending sprees are considerably more compelling than another winning family's trip to Las Vegas or a Vietnamese man's fancy new house.
At its best, Lucky digs into the question of "Is all that money really a good thing?" -- and in the case of at least one of the subjects, the answer is most definitely NO. You may wonder how multiple millions could turn out to hurt you in the long run, but Mr. Blitz nails the answer under one of his five spotlights. The other four winners provide some amusing anecdotes and perhaps a few worthwhile insights along the way, but not much more than that.
Shot slick and cut cleanly, with nifty animated interstitials full of interesting jackpot stats, Lucky is a fun little documentary that shows the joys and the unexpected stresses of sudden mega-wealth, and it'd make a great companion piece to a documentary about the actual inner workings of our government's powerfully popular state-sponsored super-lotteries. Whether anyone would actually be allowed to make that documentary, I have no idea.