Review:  ‘Lucky Them’ chases after a vanished rock ‘n’ roll legend

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“Lucky Them” depicts an eternal teen’s coming of middle age. Toni Collette stars as Ellie Klug, a Seattle music journalist and alt-rock groupie who discovered and dated Matthew Smith (Johnny Depp), a local legend, now 10 years vanished.

He left behind an influential album, a cult following and the inevitable Kurt Cobain comparisons. And Ellie, given an ultimatum by her pot-smoking editor Giles (Oliver Platt), begrudgingly takes an assignment to revisit Matthew’s legacy. Her rich former suitor Charlie (Thomas Hayden Church) bankrolls her search party with the aim of making a documentary film.

Whether a romantic conquest or reject, every man in Ellie’s life seems foreign and imperceptible. Director Megan Griffiths and writers Huck Botko and Emily Wachtel flesh out a female perspective that’s refreshing and engrossing without demonizing or objectifying men. Ultimately, Ellie’s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and exacting tastes bring her some happiness, but not fulfillment.


The film’s impressive production values match its cast. The fictional Stax magazine that employs Ellie boasts an incredible newsroom that most journalists would envy. But Ben Kutchins’ cinematography encapsulates only the damp and gloom — and none of the beauty — of the Pacific Northwest.


“Lucky Them”

MPAA rating: R for language, sexual content and drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.

Playing: At Sundance Sunset Cinema, West Hollywood. Also on VOD.