Critics' Pick

Lucky Bastard (2009) (NC-17)

Drama 95 December 31st, 1969
By Chuck Wilson
A soulful lead performance by Betsy Rue, along with director Robert Nathan;s refusal to exploit the film’s racy milieu, ground this compelling found-footage thriller about a porn shoot gone wrong. Rue plays Ashley Saint, an online sex superstar whose longtime producer, Mike (Don McManus), talks her into having sex with Dave (Jay Paulson), an amateur who's won a contest on Mike’s "Lucky Bastard" website. Nathan, who wrote the script with Lukas Kendall, opens with crime-scene video of dead bodies at a house in Van Nuys ("porn gulch," as it's known in L.A.). The rest of the film is an extended flashback purportedly assembled from behind-the-scenes footage shot by Mike's two-man crew, as well as action captured by dozens of cameras hidden in the house where Ashley and Dave's magic moment is to take place. Although it takes Nathan a bit too long to get his characters to Van Nuys, knowing in advance that Dave is likely to snap not only creates suspenseful dread, but ultimately makes the moviegoer complicit in the violence (which is believably haphazard). Are we here for the nudity (the film is rated NC-17), the bloodshed, or both?
Everett Lewis Timothy Cole, Dale Dymkoski, Johnny Kostrey, Patrick Tatten Everett Lewis Charles Myers, Robert Shulevitz Breaking Glass Pictures