Curtis Hanson shuffles a poker tale with ‘Lucky You’

Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana in Warner Bros. Pictures' Lucky You

Since breaking on to the A-list with LA Confidential in the late 90s, director Curtis Hanson has proceeded slowly over the type of projects he’s brought to the big screen. A total output of five films since LA Confidential puts him as rather nitpicky about the films he makes. Arguably the Howard Hawks of his generation, his films are an eclectic mix of genres. From action to thrillers to romances, the common denominators are intricate and often fallible human relationships at the center of the stories.

In his new film, Lucky You set in the high stakes poker circuit of Las Vegas, these relationships form the crux of the story. Eric Bana plays a poker player who goes up against his father (played by Robert Duvall) in the World Series Poker of 2003. Along the way, he falls for a singer from Bakersfield (Drew Barrymore) that he cannot commit to. Undoubtedly, using the poker table as a metaphor for life, as most sports-themed stories do, Hanson says: 

Part of the reason for wanting to make the movie was that the poker world was different, interesting, and we had an affinity for it. But the other part of it was the emotional thing. The skills at the table — and in the movie business — are different from the qualities that you want running your personal life. That single-mindedness, the aggression, the duplicity or bluffing or whatever you want to call it, the lack of sympathy, you can’t be concerned with whether your opponent can afford to lose or not. That was the real attraction, to deal with that, and explore people whose business means being in that situation all the time. How does that impact their private life?”

Hanson is also an avid poker player. Lucky You opened May 5 and has the tough position of competing with Spiderman 3 at the box-office. By no means is it going to turn out the victor, but its counter programming to a big-budget could reel in an audience hungry for a human drama. It will also attract a sizable niche audience interested in poker.

Directors, New Movies

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