Critics' Pick

Lucky Bastard (NC-17)

Drama 94 min. March 7, 2014
By Rob Staeger
Found-footage thrillers share a lot of qualities with "amateur" porn -- handheld cameras, unscripted reactions, and a better-than-average chance that you won't want to watch more than 10 minutes of it. So how does Lucky Bastard, which combines the two genres, manage to be so good? A solid cast, led by Betsy Rue (as porn star Ashley Saint) and Don McManus (as producer Mike), is the key, performing a sharp, character-driven script by Lukas Kendall and director Robert Nathan. Mike persuades Ashley to appear on his Lucky Bastard website, in which a "lucky" fan gets the chance to screw a porn star. The gag is, of course, that none of the Bastards are up to a porn-level performance, so they wind up humiliated on video. That's definitely true of creepy Dave (Jay Paulson), who shows signs of fraying from the start. It's just a job for everyone else on set, and the behind-the-scenes logistics of a porn shoot hold their own fascination; for Dave, the encounter is personal and nerve-wracking. Lucky Bastard opens with a scolding title card, implying the industry is reaping what it's sown -- socially inept killers who view people as objects. But the film is most successful humanizing the people behind the objectification, with lives beyond the smut.
Robert Nathan Betsy Rue, Don McManus, Jay Paulson, Catherine Annette, Chris Wylde, Deborah Zoe, Lanny Joon, Lee Kholafai Lukas Kendall, Robert Nathan Jim Wynorski, Steve Goldenberg CAVU Pictures

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