Less a conventional mob drama than a slice of life tragi-comic interlude between bouts of mafia mayhem, first time filmmaker Ruvin Orbach’s Lucky Man demonstrates an easy flair for gritty humor and quirky characters. There’s also a flavorful, zesty mosaic of old and new faces stirred into the mix, including vets like Sopranos wise guys Frank Vincent and Vincent Pastore.
In Lucky Man, young Brooklyn seminary student Anthony (Joe Spatoro) has somehow gotten himself deep into the mob scene, though we never really learn much about this more thinly sketched main character. At the same time, Anthony is burdened with a younger irresponsible brother Jimmy (John Ales), an aimless slacker and compulsive gambler. While Jimmy is constantly pursued and roughed up by neighborhood enforcers for not making good on outstanding gambling debts, Anthony reluctantly finds himself in the role of mob mediator on his sibling’s behalf.
In a bid to negotiate the debt, the brothers accept an offer they can hardly refuse, to mug a rival gang’s collector of gambling proceeds while he makes his rounds, and steal his stash of big bucks. When Jimmy is entrusted to deliver the stolen bag, he’s lured instead into the back room gambling den of the same rival gang in question. And he makes bad news bids with the stolen money, that ironically and unknown to the competing gang, substantially ends up back in their hands. The original mob masterminds are displeased, to say the least, and the resulting crisis pits the brothers against one another in a loose-loose tragic situation.
Lucky Man packs a whole lot of full length feature drama, character conflict and hard boiled humor into its brief running time. And while the finale comes off as too hasty and abrupt, the path taken to those closing moments is paved with richly drawn offbeat personalities and finely crafted storytelling.
2 1/2 stars
DVD Features: Interviews With Director Ruvin Orbach and Actor Frank Vincent; Photo Gallery; Theatrical Trailer.