Seven Times Lucky


Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Small time crook Harlan (Kevin Pollak) has just collected $10,000 on behalf of mobster Mr Five Wounds (Gordon Tootoosis). This is good and a restful Christmas beckons. But Harlan's also just put the money on the nose of a dead-cert racing tip that, true to form, came in second. This is bad and a silent night in an unmarked grave may well be beckoning.

Fortunately, Harlan's erstwhile partners-in-crime Fiona (Liana Balaban) - not quite trustworthy and young enough to be his daughter - and Sonny (Jonas Cherniak) - not too smart, though appearances can be deceptive - have a solution in the form of a dozen hot Rolexes needing fenced. Of course, if things were that simple we wouldn't have much of a movie and, sure enough, soon everyone is double and triple crossing each other like it's going out of fashion...

And perhaps it is, as Gary Yates's Canadian indie unfolds with a strong sense of deja-vu

It begins with the title itself: isn't Seven Times Lucky just too reminiscent of Hard Eight, Nine Queens and Ocean's Eleven? Fine to invoke them if you can equal, or surpass them, but not a good idea if you can't.

As it is, P. T. Anderson's debut is perhaps the closest point of comparison. But where it works as a character driven drama, the comparable idea here - Harlan is haunted by the memory of seeing his father gunned down in front of him - is underdeveloped and comes across as something that's been included because the screenwriting manual says so.

Likewise, while the hardboiled dialogue and anachronisms - half a 1940s world of boxing gyms, fedoras and guys named Dutch and half present day communication aids with cell phones and voicemail - give the requisite degrees of coolness and style - or what increasingly pass for such in these attention deficit times - they also make it difficult to get into the film, that sense of it's-only-a-movie-ness soon emerging to prevent you from really caring about the characters and - worse - expecting the unexpected.

Not bad by any means - Pollak is always worth watching, while Balaban proves eerily reminiscent of both Natalie Portman and Hilary Swank at times, surely auguring well for her future - just not as good as you feel it could, or should, be.

So, is smart becoming the new dumb?

Reviewed on: 10 Feb 2005
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A small-time crook cooks up a scam after betting losing a mob boss' cash on a horse.

Director: Gary Yates

Writer: Gary Yates

Starring: Kevin Pollak, Liane Balaban, Jonas Chernick, James Tolkan, Aleks Paunovic, Babs Chula, Gordon Tootoosis

Year: 2004

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada


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If you like this, try:

Nine Queens
Ocean's Eleven