So how is it that a movie with a familiar storyline (search for a disappeared musician), a lead character who’s a mess (Toni Collette as Ellie) and a second lead who’s a genuine goof (Thomas Haden Church as Charlie) is so engaging? Beats me. The magic of movies, perhaps? A wonderful performance by Collette as an embittered music critic? A knowing nod to Church’s strengths as a performer (Charlie mentions that he’s not deep, but he’s also not shallow)? A well-placed and underplayed movie star cameo? A delightful turn by stand-up comic Gary Gulman? The presence of Seattle as a character and not just a setting?
Lucky Them’s narrative is pretty simple: Ellie is told by her editor (Oliver Platt) that the magazine she writes for is struggling; she needs to find her ex-boyfriend, a beloved disappeared Seattle musician named Matthew Smith (Johnny Depp), and write a story about what he’s been doing for a decade. Naturally, the assignment is harder than it first seems, and Ellie would rather drink and fuck herself into a stupor than be vulnerable and introspective.
All the characters feel real (including Charlie), and the performances are pitch-perfect. Funny, sad, poignant, like a good song. Which real-life musician do you see as inspiration for Smith’s disappearance (I’m going with Richey Edwards)?
Directed by Megan Griffiths
With Collette, Church and Nina Arianda