Kris Rothstein's Blog

VIFF: Lucky!

Kris Rothstein

Jeffrey Blitz's first documentary since the wonderfulness that was Spellbound. For Lucky he left behind the subject of how learning, working hard and setting goals (ie to win the US national spelling bee) reflects the American Dream. In Lucky he investigates that other American Dream, getting rich without doing a thing. The subjects of this film are lottery winners and Blitz was anxious to know how this crazy event would change their lives.

It wasn't easy to fnd willing subjects but the six stories told here are riveting and also tell a bigger tale about money and luck and about who we really are.

Quang and his wife were Vietnamese boat people and they are thrilled that the lottery will release them from the drudgery of work, allowing them to sleep more than three hours a night and to be able to look after their grandkids. (I just wish they hadn't built such ugly houses.) Buddy ran through his money and several members of his family tried to kill him. In the end he was left with jets, limos and 12,000 pairs of trousers. And James was lonely after losing his beloved parents and living in squalour when he struck gold. He is an innocent, and lives in a motel where he feeds a parking lot full of cats every night. A few loving friends look out for him. Then there's Verna, the hopeful, still plugging away with her crazy systems and spending about $100 per day.

The most recent winners are a bit baffled, settling into their lives as wealthy people and losing touch with who they were. The mathematician who'd rather be solving a theorem than spending his money believes that a big win does not really change people, it just magnifies who they really are. And he's a guy who never bought his Lamborghini because he didn't enjoy stuff he didn't work for. As Buddy's nephew says, "They say you have to play to win. I don't want to win."

Sadly there are no more screenings but check VIFF updates in case one is added. It's been on HBO and might get some kind of general release so go see it!



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