The dark series, with its brilliant cinematography, is a paean to people who believe that things happen for a reason.
When it comes to luck, and the new HBO series Luck, there is no in-between. There is only good luck and bad luck. And the nine-episode-long morality play brought to us by creators Michael Mann and David Milch--not brought to us, more like thrown in our faces--doesn't pretend to argue otherwise. The low are raised high in this dark work about human vanity and vice. And the high are laid low. Good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people. And then bad things just happen. It's a dramatic series, and a powerful paean, for all you people out there who don't believe that shit just happens.
About the only thing about Luck—which premieres on Sunday at 9 pm Eastern—that comes directly and honestly at you is the title. The title--and of course the horses, the magnificent animals, who grace the screen in every episode as brilliant props. As a horseman, I came to Luck hoping that it would, at last, be the top-shelf portrayal of horse racing that America has long deserved but never seen. In this, I was keenly disappointed. There is still a larger story for Hollywood to tell about the backstretch and about the good (and the good people) in the horse industry. A softer story. A nobler one in which the characters are more admirable, less feared, and certainly more average in their lifestyles.
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But I wasn't disappointed with the series itself. It was called Luck, after all, and not Racing Luck, so no one ought to be surprised that the story is more about gambling than it is about horses. The series is nine hours of lies and paranoia, revenge and redemption, sweet and sour. It is about a little bit of love and a whole lot of dread, which I suppose you could say about a lot of industries and a lot of workers. Oh, and the cinematography, especially at the track and of the races, is simply stunning-- a new standard by which future horse racing movies will have to be judged.