Do you think winning the lottery would be the solution to all of life's little annoyances? Me too. But in the intriguing new documentary "Lucky," we see that the golden goose can still be a bit of a beast! Made by Jeffrey Blitz, the man who made spelling bees riveting in the crowd pleasing "Spellbound," this examination of past lottery winners hits the jackpot. The film provides quite a few facts about the lottery and I had no idea it had such a historical presence. The film explores the myth and the fantasy that have compelled Americans to make participating in the lottery the number one paid entertainment in the country. There are brief interviews with ordinary folks hoping to strike it rich as well as an extended sequence with a women obsessed with the game. But, first and foremost, this is a film about the winners--the toll it takes and the changes they make.
The five winners profiled provide a diverse cross section of America. There is a Vietnamese immigrant trying to build a better life, a content middle class couple, a destitute loner, a successful academician, and (this one is hard to describe, but I'll be nice) a working class guy who made good as a local hero. Each story has its highs and lows. Most approached the windfall with a fair amount of caution as they were thrust into the national spotlight--this group represents winning at $5.5 million, $16 million, two $22 millions, and $110 million. The film juxtaposes the winners shortly after taking home the jackpot with footage from a year later, and it's interesting to see the differences! Many helped altruistic causes with part of their money. But some of the more dramatic consequences include an alienation of friendships, divorce, a barrage of investment seekers, and even an assassination plot or two!
The film does a nice job balancing different viewpoints. One blew through his fortune, one maintains an empire, one lives as if he doesn't have money at all, and some retained relatively modest lifestyles (considering). The film is sharp and entertaining. If you've ever wondered what happened to these winners you've seen on the news, "Lucky" provides a chance to look behind the scenes and beyond the fantasy. It doesn't discourage the dream, by any means, but it showcases a dark cloud that many have never had to think about as well. Check it out before your next quick pick! KGHarris, 4/11.