by Peter Payer
There is not a moment during the screening of Stroke of Luck in which the audience can really catch its breath. Everything unfolds very quickly and the protagonist’s situation – which, at first, seemed so idyllic as to seem somewhat artificial – inevitably takes a turn for the worse, with corpses to be hidden and welcome noir atmospheres contrasting with the evocative and contemplative views of Vienna.
Never follow strangers
Artur’s life is simply perfect: a stable job, a great passion and a happy marriage that has been going on for eleven years. Yet, you know, one should not boast too much about being overly lucky. Especially since fate is always ready to turn the tables by completely upsetting any established balance. The vicissitudes of the ‘lucky’ Artur were, then, staged by director Peter Payer in his Stroke of Luck, which was supposed to be part of the Diagonale 2020, but, following the cancellation of the festival, was included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished.
The life of Artur (played by Philipp Hochmair) is, thus, about to experience something shocking. And this happens when one day, in the small copy shop where he works, the young and charming Alice (Julia Roy) arrives and immediately makes him realise that she would like to see him again. The man, despite his apparently happy marriage, follows her one evening and tries to save her from an attack by an ex-boyfriend. From then on, things take a completely unexpected turn.
This exciting and entertaining Stroke of Luck immediately presents the standard canons of a comedy, with the protagonist’s voice-over introducing the serene initial situation, and even welcome animated inserts peeping onto the screen from time to time as post-it notes with drawings by Artur himself, a comic book enthusiast who also dreams of becoming a cartoonist.
Ruling the entire film is an excellent Philipp Hochmair, as well as a screenplay – by Peter Payer himself – full of twists and unexpected, paradoxical situations. There is not a moment during the screening of Stroke of Luck in which the audience can really catch its breath. Everything unfolds very quickly and Artur’s situation – which at first seemed so idyllic as to seem overly artificial – inevitably turns for the worse, with corpses to be hidden and welcome noir atmospheres that provide a good contrast to the evocative and contemplative views of Vienna, between sunset walks along the banks of the Danube or even – why not? – an adrenalin-fuelled and wildly romantic ride on the sky-high Praterturm, one of the world’s tallest merry-go-rounds.
At the end of the screening, then, no one is really innocent or completely guilty. Likewise, everyone is both victim and executioner at the same time. No one excluded. And here, finally, Artur’s life is coloured by every possible nuance that life can offer. And if, at the end of the day, this Stroke of Luck is certainly not remarkable for its directorial virtuosity or for the controversial themes it deals with, but, on the contrary, fits perfectly into the canons of pure black comedy entertainment, it succeeds perfectly in its aim of entertaining the audience and keeping them captivated in order to find out what will happen to our (un)lucky Artur. All this makes for a little over an hour and a half of welcome and good laughs, complete with just the right touch of suspense.
Original title: Glück gehabt
Directed by: Peter Payer
Country/year: Austria / 2019
Running time: 101’
Cast: Philipp Hochmair, Julia Roy, Larissa Fuchs, Robert Stadlober, Barbara Petritsch, Claudia Kottal, Raimund Wallisch, Christian Strasser
Screenplay: Peter Payer
Cinematography: Andreas Berger
Produced by: Prisma Film- und Fernsehproduktion