The Lucky Star

I went into this film knowing nothing and the last thing I expected to see was Kai Winn. Louise Fletcher is in this, as a good guy for once, and she’s great as always. Rod Steiger also appears as a Nazi colonel, bringing his signature moral ambivalence to the role. And Brett Marx, the kid who plays the film’s protagonist David, is also great, making believable a very naive and hopelessly idealistic character.

The other thing I didn’t expect was to laugh so much. This is actually really funny. Marx has great comic timing and physicality.

The film is about David, a Dutch Jewish boy who has seen one too many cowboy films. He practices for his bar mitzvah, then sneaks up onto the roof at night to practice his quick-draw. He falls asleep up there the night the Nazis come for the Jews of Amsterdam, and wakes in the morning to find himself alone in the world.

Saddling up his only belongings, he makes his way to a backwater town, where Louise Fletcher’s Mrs. Bakker takes him in and becomes his second mother. There, David’s cowboy fantasies come to life, and while working as her farmhand, learning to ride a horse and make a lasso.

But when the burgomeister draws him in to get his yellow star, the transformation is complete, and David imagines himself deputised the sheriff. When the Nazis arrive even in this peaceful little town, it comes down to its sheriff to stand up against the gang of no-goods.

Like Life is Beautiful, The Lucky Star is about children escaping into fantasy from the horrors of war. It is also a wish fulfilment for us as an audience, to see David take on Goliath, to see the innocent defeat the monstrous by the very virtue of that innocence. Surprisingly funny and surprisingly touching, a really enjoyable film.