Are You Lucky?

Staff-Recommended Documentaries

DVD Artwork: LuckyIf you were to win a lottery jackpot, would your life change for the better? Just as improbably, if a bolt of lightning struck you (and you survived!) would you find meaning in the experience? Two fascinating film documentaries, Lucky and Act of God, enable you to explore these subjects and to live these scenarios vicariously.  They will challenge you to reflect on these provocative questions. 

Through in-depth interviews, Lucky shows the intense social and individual repercussions for Americans suddenly winning huge amounts of money. In the documentary, you meet:

  • An odds-defying mathematician whose wife soon divorces him, taking away a share of the windfall. He then finds true love, endows a university chair, and pursues his interest in singing.
  • A self-aware and generous couple, who become swamped with requests from around the world, find that their friends can no longer relate to them, and are forced to completely relocate their family. The husband manages their wealth as a full-time job, and their children's lives lose a sense of normality.
  • A heroic former fireman who burns through his winnings, his siblings hire a hit man to knock him off and he eventually winds up destitute, living in a shack.
  • A big-hearted Vietnamese immigrant and former worker at a meatpacking plant, who reluctantly leaves his accustomed life and, with the proceeds of a giant Powerball win, builds four mansions for his extended family (with a picture of the boat they used to escape etched above their fireplace), and sends money back to poor family members in Vietnam. 
  • An eccentric single man, who had descended into depression when his parents died, put down his last three dollars for a lottery ticket, and won. He remains essentially lonely despite his new wealth.

As Lucky progresses, you come to feel more and more that winning so much materially can have an unexpected spiritual and emotional price. 

More transcendent in its subject and through some brilliant cinematography, Act of God reveals the radical unpredictability of life, the violent, electric, and beautiful spontaneity of nature, the finiteness of rationality, as well as the sometimes astonishing resilience of the human body.

The metaphysical after-effects of a lightning strike evoke a broad range of responses. A former Marine has an amazing, illuminating near-death experience, and then devotes his life to caring for the dying, especially veterans.  For some, the trauma from the lightning sears the soul. A Catholic community in Mexico finds a way to reconcile their faith with the lightning-caused tragedy they have endured. While seeing lightning as a symbol of the divine, author Paul Auster -- whose friend at camp died from a bolt that hit them both -- considers the event purely random.  Others in Act of God have different relationships with lightning. A storm chaser seeks it; a French curator dedicates a museum to it; and a Yoruba spiritual community worships a lightning god. 

The images, people, and stories in Act of God and Lucky will stay with you long after you see them.  Consider checking out these enlightening documentaries, too:

Spellbound Forks Over Knives Objectified Inside Job
Spellbound Forks Over Knives Objectified Inside Job