Phillip is going out for a job interview. It's been a hard journey, and this is his 17th round. But his mom is sending him off with plenty of love and support for her precious "gummy bear"...who is also a grown man.
But when Phillip finds a four-leaf clover -- and an attractive woman calls out "Hey cutie!" as she passes by -- it gives him a boost of confidence to move forward. But as he finds himself in one mishap after another, his luck may just run out before he even gets his foot in the door.
Written and directed by Emanuele Daga, this sweet comedy has a charming, gentle spirit, finding both fun and sympathy with a hapless soul trying to cope with the foibles of his life as they pile up around him. And boy, do they pile up, as Phillip finds himself in one pickle after another -- some made on his own, some created by sheer bad luck.
The writing is compact and concise, laying down each beat clearly and constructing a character who's been coddled too long by a doting but overbearing mother. Phillip is ill-equipped to cope with the small but piquant obstacles in life, a fact made clear as he goes in for his interview and finds himself surrounded by more polished, professional candidates in the waiting room. With his weird hair, ill-fitting suit and general air of dishevelment, Phillip stands out in a bad way, and he experiences a spiral of anxiety and shame.
With such a character, it would be easy to lapse into sharp, biting satire. But with its sparkling bright old-school Hollywood orchestral musical score and an amiable brightness in the look and feel, the film announces itself as a cheerful, friendly world, and often chooses a tone of gentle silliness instead of manic biting energy. The film is firmly on Phillip's side, even as we watch him get into one small scrape after another.
Actor Anton Nassif's performance, along with the other supporting performances, plays up certain moments with an almost 50s-style sitcom wink-and-nudge. But generally, it's a quieter performance, one that shares a heritage perhaps with the characters embodied by Buster Keaton, who played his striving but often hapless would-be heroes with deadpan silliness and deep vulnerability. Similarly, this performance is grounded in the emotional truth of a character cowed by the demands of adult life. And when the embarrassment of his situation becomes abundantly clear, he has no choice but to face the truth -- which sets him free in many ways at the end.
"Green Luck" ends on a sweetly triumphant note, one that is well earned through its consistency to its warm, friendly tone. Some comedies aim for belly-aching laughs or a dark edginess. But "Green Luck" goes for a perhaps old-fashioned sincerity and even affection, bringing some chuckles and smiles to viewers. In the end, Phillip wins out by a mistake of perception. But the only real note of irony is that this trick of perception was created by Phillip's endearing combination of innocence and vulnerability, which finally wins out when he finds his true voice at the end.