Lucky People: Character Actors in the Spotlight
This year’s Concorso internazionale showcases, among other things, John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut Lucky, a journey of elderly self-discovery starring Harry Dean Stanton. Stanton, much like the director himself (best known for playing the prime suspect in David Fincher’s Zodiac), is a so-called “character actor”, a performer generally associated with a specific type of supporting role, which ensures a continued career without much risk of never being in demand, unlike conventional leading men and women. Stanton’s low-key, quietly charismatic presence has in fact graced so many great films, from Alien to The Green Mile, that the late critic Roger Ebert once stated that no movie featuring him was completely devoid of merit (the same principle applied to another character actor, M. Emmet Walsh).
Lucky is not the only Locarno70 entry to feature interesting work from reliable supporting players. The Piazza Grande line-up in particular boasts various noteworthy participants, from Willem Dafoe’s newfound fatherly concern in What Happened to Monday? to John Goodman’s no-nonsense authoritarian presence in Atomic Blonde (alongside Toby Jones in a similar role). Michael Showalter, best known for off-kilter comedic performances in the likes of Wet Hot American Summer and its sequels, steps behind the camera with The Big Sick, a rare center stage opportunity for Pakistani comedian Kumail Nanjiani (with Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as fictionalized versions of his in-laws). Finally, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi almost steal the show from Robert Pattinson in the Safdie brothers’ Good Time.