Hard Luck

on April 05, 2002 by Kim Williamson
   Lead actor/writer/producer Kirk Harris says "it's always been my dream" to shoot a film in Oregon, but the resulting work is hardly one of happy reverie. Known for their resolutely indie film work, Harris and producer/director Jack Rubio (both of "My Sweet Killer"), along with actors Renee Humphrey ("Fun") and Matthew Faber ("Welcome to the Dollhouse"), have crafted a moody and insightful tragedy about three childhood friends now grown who face both emotional and worldly troubles.

   As Lucky, who escapes from prison to regroup with his friends, Harris seems to take a page from Jack Nicholson's flat-yet-full turn in "Five Easy Pieces." As Lucky's ex-wife, now married to a no-nonsense cop, Humphrey handles her character contradictions--she does love her current husband, but she also still loves Lucky, even as she works to create a straight path for herself in life--with a turn that is not only believable but emotionally coherent. Faber, playing a character who is dying (as is the "old world" that the three once shared), brings flesh to his symbolic self.

   Well done as it is, "Hard Luck" suffers from a certain need to exist; unlike Hollywood movies that seek to excite, "Hard Luck" seeks to "be," but ultimately it does not achieve the level of existential profundity its creators might have wished for. That's perhaps the fault of the ending, which seems inconsistent with the turmoil of what preceded it--as if the filmmakers allowed themselves a bit of wish fulfillment for characters about whom they cared so much.    Starring Kirk Harris, Renee Humphrey and Matthew Faber. Directed by Jack Rubio. Written by Kirk Harris. Produced by Jack Rubio and Kirk Harris. A FilmKitchen release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 85 min.

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