Your Lucky Day- Fantastic Fest 2023
September 25th, 2023
MOVIE: YOUR LUCKY DAY
STARRING: ANGUS CLOUD, JESSICA GARZA, SPENCER GARRETT, ELLIOT KNIGHT, MOUSA HUSSEIN KRAISH
DIRECTED BY: DAN BROWN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The question isn’t just, “What would you do with over a million dollars?” The actual question is “What would you do if you were standing right next to the winner of a multi-million dollar lotto ticket at a liquor store?” Would you try to take it? Would you turn someone’s situation of joy into a moment of misery? Director Dan Brown– in his feature film debut– dissects this quandary, rich with greed and desperation in America, in his riveting and intense new drama- Your Lucky Day.
Located at a liquor store on Christmas Eve, Sterling (Angus Cloud, in what is sadly one of his last performances before his passing) stands outside to make a drug deal, which quickly turns into a robbery. He shakes off his losses and walks into the store in a bitter mood. As time would have it, a wealthy attorney (Spencer Garrett) walks in for cigarettes and chats with the clerk Amir (Mousa Hussein Kraish), proceeding to check past lotto tickets on the scanner. Bells go off and he’s just won the 156-million dollar jackpot, but before he can enjoy it, Sterling holds a gun to him for the ticket. A police officer (Sterling Beaumon) happens to be in the bathroom, trying to be a hero, but in his efforts people get shot, creating a hostage situation, which includes an expecting married couple Ana (Jessica Garza) and Abraham (Elliot Knight), who wanted nothing to do with this in the first place. Now the question becomes who will get out alive or will everyone get a piece of that winning lotto ticket?
From the narrative perspective, Your Lucky Day is an intense conflict, while finding plenty of moments for actors to produce character depth. The writing and directing from Brown escalates what he did in his 2010 short film of the same name. Each character isn’t drawn as a stereotype, but instead given the unpredictable nature of if they will be greedy enough to get in on the plan. The characters become willing to cover up a murder or willing to lie simply to level the playing field for everyone. Although Sterling may be a drug dealer, there is more to him than just that person, and although the clerk would seem like a family man, the money is still a way out of any life.
The credit for this story’s success is how claustrophobic it becomes. Brown nails the sets and tones. The lighting has a liquor store shade, where the front looks bright yellow, and the back looks like a dungeon. Even as Brown builds the narrative towards a shootout or someone fighting for their life, his writing is unafraid to let a character speak their purpose with an engaging monologue. It’s hard to pinpoint a movie it reminds me of, but Dog Day Afternoon is a very close inspiration here, with one setting, and police officers trying to break in. Performance-wise, the praise goes to Cloud and Garza, both saddled with speeches about how life brought them to this situation, and the unfair ideology of the American dream. Although the momentum of Your Lucky Day is not always kept, it does have strong acting and quality direction to live on.
It is easy to see how Your Lucky Day was a short film and expanded on to feature length. One of the flaws of the film is how new characters added can crowd the drama, but Brown does a superb job of wrapping it together, making it a story not just about the rich versus the poor, but a story about all types of greed. That’s the biggest credit due, where no punches are pulled, no character is a saint, and each moment is unpredictable. There is a deep moral conflict in the center of Your Lucky Day, with powerful acting, making this an impressive feature debut. By the end, I still didn’t know how I would answer my initial question. I guess consider yourself Lucky that you won’t have to choose.
YOUR LUCKY DAY PREMIERED AT THE 2023 FANTASTIC FEST AND WILL HAVE A RELEASE LATER THIS YEAR.
Written by: Leo Brady