Tribeca Film Festival 2010 Review: Lee Isaac Chung’s Lucky Life

Spending the day at the beach with a small group of close friends is always a good time. The weather is gorgeous, the sun is bright and the company is priceless. But what happens when another group of close friends invades your personal space? The group is obnoxious, always kicking sand in your face. Sure this is a public beach and they have every right to be here, but do they have to be so rude to you and your friends. You were just trying to enjoy the beautiful day and now you are irritated beyond belief. Well, imagine that experience, not at the beach, but at a movie theater, and that unsavory group of people are not in the theater with you but on the movie screen. Well, that’s how I felt while I was watching the newest film from filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung, Lucky Life.

The film follows four friends, Jason, Alex and newlywed couple Mark and Karen, every year they leave Manhattan for the beaches of North Carolina. This is a time for reconnection and self-examination. Mark is an aspiring writer, working on a collection of poems called Lucky Life. The film is slow and meanders during stale scenes of conversation and self-actualization. In this way, the film is laid out as a poem. We are left with nothing but a superficial film with very little substance. There is only so much an audience can stand of long landscape photography of North Carolina beaches.

Probably the most interesting element of the film is the relationship between the newlyweds, Mark and Karen. There are glimmers of depth when the couple is having trouble conceiving but then eventually get pregnant. The couple attempts to assemble a crib for the baby only to find that this task is creating a conflict between the two. One is controlling and stubborn and the other is apathetic, this leads to nothing because the conflict is never resolved. The problems stem from its character. Lucky Life tries to be dramatic but it ends up being boring and tedious. We are tugged to feel something for these characters through their tragedies. Jason has terminal cancer and Karen has a miscarriage but nothing is earned. We are not invested. We are only left with displaced scenes of Mark reading his poetry. Is this supposed to be clever?

Lucky Life is awkwardly paced and heavy for its 97 minute running time. At times dull and daunting, it tip toes around the line of the pretentious and then leaps over it with tortuous and stilted moments. Trust me, Lucky Life is no day at the beach.

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