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RELEASED: 1999, Cert. U
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 112 mins
DIRECTOR: David Lynch
PRODUCERS: Neal Edelstein & Mary Sweeney
SCREENPLAY: Joan Roach & Mary Sweeney
MUSIC: Angelo Badalamenti
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) is an elderly man whose health is failing. He lives in rural Iowa with his daughter Rose (Cissy Spacek), and they have a good relationship with one another.
When Alvin gets a phone call informing him that his brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) has suffered a stroke, he decides to travel to see him. The two brothers had apparently fallen out ten years earlier after an argument and hadn't seen or spoken to one another since.
Alvin has poor eyesight, walks on two sticks and has other health problems largely caused by drinking too much earlier in his life and constantly puffing on huge cigars, so is unable to drive.....another problem is that if he could drive, he doesn't own a car. After giving the matter some thought as to how he is going to make the journey to Wisconsin to see Lyle, Alvin comes up with the idea of travelling there on his motorised lawn mower.
Despite worrying about how her ageing, ailing father is going to make the long journey from Iowa to Wisconsin on his lawn mower, Rose helps him pack for the journey, piling a trailer high with fuel and a mountain of smoked sausage which Alvin loves to eat.....and once the trailer is fixed to the back of the lawn mower, off he sets on his long journey.
During his slow travels, Alvin is overtaken by various vehicles....even a troupe of cyclist racers....he picks up a young girl hitchhiker, and a few other things happen to him as he drives his lawn mower through the rural mid-West.
Regular readers of my film reviews will probably notice that for this one, I've not listed the main cast members in my heading. This is because in a way, every single character in the film could be viewed as a main cast member which would result in a very long list....so, I decided omission to be the better course of action this time. Also, Harry Dean Stanton only has a very tiny part in the film but he is one of the significant main characters.
I was interested in seeing The Straight Story, particularly as it was directed by David Lynch, and I'd both heard and read that this film is completely different from anything else he has ever done.
The Straight Story begins with Alvin being found lying on the kitchen floor by his daughter Rose....he is helped up, and that's when the phone call comes with the news that Lyle has had a stroke.
Immediately, I warmed to the characters of Alvin and Rose....a father and daughter team who seem very easy and close to one another. There is the merest touch of a slight humour in their interaction, together with some bantering which takes place between Alvin and his friends.
Once Alvin took to the road perched on his lawn mower, I became intrigued, wondering what would happen to him on the long journey and, if he would even make it to Wisconsin to see Lyle.
The characters of Alvin and Rose are brilliantly played by Richard Farnsworth and Cissy Spacek, and they gel together perfectly as father and daughter characters. Also, when Harry Dean-Stanton puts in an appearance as Lyle, he acts his tiny part with the brilliance which one would normally expect from him - he holds the world in his eyes which with their expression, probably sum up the whole point of this film.
The Straight Story is very easy to watch. It flows along nicely, and I liked the element of not really knowing or being able to predict what was going to happen at any given moment in time. There is a kind of a wry sadness present in that we see Alvin as a spirited individual who is in his twilight years and with failing health, yet apparently refuses to let the world get the better of him despite occasionally becoming frustrated that he is unable to do what he used to when younger.
Alvin's journey is almost as if it were a light-hearted pilgrimage, where he trundles through the countryside on his lawn mower, sheltering from storms, making progress when the weather is more clement and sharing a little of himself with each person he encounters.
There is a touch of sentimentality about The Straight Story, but it is easy to be with as it isn't really a tear-jerker of a film....more of a heart-warmer. Being financed and produced by Disney Films, it does have the hallmark of those Disney movies which have real people in them rather than cartoons, always being suitable for family viewing. Probably what went a long way towards creating that touch of sentimentality for me was the music, which is pleasant, but rather sugary.
The Straight Story really isn't the sort of film I'd normally go for or even enjoy, but I stayed with this one and became thoroughly absorbed in this charming man's travels on his rickety lawn mower through the cornfields of Iowa, to the point where I can say it really is worth watching. I'd hazard more than a vague guess that David Lynch's directing skills went a long way towards creating this delightful film, but must stress to fans of his work that it really is a complete all-change from anything else he has created as a director.
Other pleasing parts of The Straight Story are some of the camera angles used which at first I took for granted, but studying them in more detail, I realised that they are very clever in a way that it is difficult to explain other than saying that for me they helped to create the whole atmosphere of the film brilliantly - I was also very impressed with the scenery and how good use was made of weather conditions, the characteristics of nature as autumn approaches and a carefully constructed dialogue which does touch upon giving a little food for thought here and there.
Even though this kind of film is for the most part outside of my comfort zone, I honestly can't fault it in any way and would highly recommend it to anybody, male or female from any age group.....it being perfectly suitable for family viewing too. Very little children may not understand the finer points of the storyline, but I consider it more than possible they'd enjoy at least some parts of it.
In summary, The Straight Story is a thoroughly enjoyable, beautifully acted and directed film which I think I may wish to see again some day. My recommendation is......go for it!
At the time of writing, The Straight Story can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.34 to £79.00
Used: from £2.55 to £7.00
Some DVDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
THE STRAIGHT STORY
Region: Region 2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Channel 4
DVD Release Date: 12 May 2008 (First made 1999)
Run Time: 107 minutes
Available from Amazon for £4.97 with free delivery.
DVD Only Review
This film has touched me in a way I never expected. Directed by David Lynch, famous for strange productions, this film is not along those disturbing lines, and as such cannot be viewed in the same way as his others. It is quite simply the slowest moving story you can imagine that captivates you from beginning to end, and leaves you feeling such warmth. Some of the images and many of the words have carved an imprint in my mind that will remain with me for ever.
Brief Outline Of The Story
Put quite simply the story is about one central character, Alvin Straight, played by the late Richard Farnsworth. He is an elderly frail World War Two veteran, who lives a simple life in the Iowa countryside with one of his daughters Rose. One autumn day he gets news of his brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) who has sadly suffered a stroke. Not having spoken in over a decade after a serious argument, Alvin is shaken by the news, and decides he must make the journey to see him in Wisconsin some five hundred miles away. He has no driving license due to failing eyesight, and the only method he can think of to get there is to use his sit on lawn mower. So armed with enough gas, sausages and supplies to last the six week trip he sets off on his lawn mower which he uses to pull a trailer - his bedroom for the journey. Of course this machine fails quickly, but determined not to be beaten he borrows another from Tom a local dealer, and so soon he sets off into the autumn unknown on a 66' John Deere riding lawn mower. As the leaves turn from green to russet, and shafts of light illuminate vast fields of corn bathing them in golden blankets the journey begins.
The snail like pace of this film is something I will never forget. Neither will I lose sight of the fact that this is a true story that actually happened. Furthermore the actor Richard Farnsworth was suffering from cancer during the film, and was actually in severe pain from the disease at the time of production in 1999. In 2000 he took his own life.
The acting in this film is utterly outstanding, and I am sure this is due in part to the way that the actor was himself in similar circumstances. Not only is the film shot entirely in the autumn, but the fading sunlight and the approaching winter and year closure, are to me symbolic of the way that Alvin too is approaching the end of his life. Within this feeling comes the need to make things right with people and with family, and to achieve something. Making this long road trip in such a precarious vehicle is important to Alvin. It marks commitment and dedication, and as the long road stretches out in front of him nothing matters more to him than being able to get there before it is too late. He wants to sit with Lyle one last time and watch the stars like they used to as young boys.
There are many empty silences in the film and thought provoking moments. Stunning cinematography fills the space where words would otherwise clutter. Scenes fade and emerge like chapters in a book flowing gently from one to the next. You would think this would be depressing but it is anything but. Scattered along the journey are events and chance meetings with other folk, who add their little piece to the jigsaw allowing Alvin to empty his heart and paint his canvas. I think the memory which will stay in my mind for ever was his reference to family. Talking to a pregnant young girl by his campfire, who he met on the run from her folks, he tells her that one stick breaks easily but tie a bundle together and they are impossible to snap. I love that image and it sets the scene for the journey.
There is a good performance in the film by Alvin's daughter Rose played by Sissy Spacek. Back in Iowa and living a country existence she adds something to the film in her portrayal of a woman manning the fort.
The music is hauntingly beautiful throughout the film and has compelled me to purchase it. It blends beautifully with the countryside images and the cascading leaves and is a delight to listen to.
There are no extras or scene selections at all on this DVD except for a theatrical trailer. This was at the request of David Lynch to facilitate the flow of the film. You simply don't enjoy the passage of the film or appreciate its meaning when you watch clips. It is designed to make you feel as if you have lived through the autumn from beginning to end, and seen all the leaves float off the trees one by one.
This is an uplifting film which rejoices and celebrates life. It marries together old age with hope, and there is still fire in Alvin's eyes as he battles on through miles of lonely deserted roads, some as old and wrinkled as his weathered face. There is excitement too as traffic surrounds the lawnmower in areas of population, and wakes the driver from his previous meditative journey. Hills too present challenges -down slopes more than up, but one thing is for sure you will complete the journey as if you have been sitting right up there next to Alvin. I feel like I know every line on his face and every thought in his mind. I will never see autumn in the same light again, because now as the leaves are beginning to turn red and the last rays of summer sun are fading, I see the image of Alvin illuminated against the backdrop of the golden cornfields. A true masterpiece.
The Straight Story is an absolutely beautiful film from the ordinarily bizarre director David Lynch. It tells the story of a 73 year-old man, Alvin Straight, who sets out to visit his brother Lyle, who has had a stroke. The pace of this film is far slower than most and follows the main character as he journeys from his home to that of his brother, using only his ride-on lawn-mower.
I remember before seeing this for the first time hearing that it was 'like taking a holiday' and I completely agree with this review; the panoramic shots of corn fields accompanied by Angelo Badalamenti's gorgeous soundtrack, as we travel with Alvin at the pace of his lawnmower, is an experience in film that is enjoyably immersing. The time taken over small events and the realistic human dramas that are played out along the way give drama to this film, although I would say that this is a film you really need to sit and concentrate on; preferably on a large screen - the scenery is filmed beautifully.
This is one of my favourite films of all time, partly because of the pace, and the feel of it, and partly because I think there is a lot of wisdom imparted through the conversations that Alvin has along his journey, a lot of which have stayed with me. Definitely a film I'd recommend to anyone.
The Straight Story is a 1999 film directed by David Lynch. The central protagonist of the film is Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), a frail but dignified and proud 73-year-old man who gets around rather unsteadily with the aid of a pair of walking sticks. The grizzled Alvin is a World War 2 veteran and lives quietly with his daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek), a simple soul troubled by painful separation from her children, in rural Iowa. One night during a big thunderstorm, a troubled Alvin finds out that his long estranged brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) has suffered a stroke and resolves to go and see him in person to mend their relationship before it is too late. "Anger, vanity, you mix that together with liquor, you've got two brothers that haven't spoken in ten years," says Alvin. "Whatever it was that made me and Lyle so mad don't matter anymore. I want to make peace, I want to sit with him, look up at the stars... like we used to do, so long ago." Unfortunately, Lyle lives some 500 miles away and Alvin is unable to drive anymore because of his failing eyesight. Determined to go and see Lyle under his own steam, Alvin hatches a novel and eccentric plan to drive there on his old seated lawn mower but it duly conks out on him almost as soon as he begins the long journey. The stubborn and defiant Alvin refuses to give up though and visits Tom the Dealer (Everett McGill) who kindly lends him a 66' John Deere riding lawn mower. With a maximum speed of only 5 miles per hour, Alvin finally sets off on his very personal and lengthy quest to patch things up with Lyle.
The warmest and most accessible feature to come from David Lynch, The Straight Story, which was based on a true story, is an utterly charming and beautifully directed little film with lovely cinematography, wonderful performances and some nice gentle humour. It's always a pleasure to be in the leisurely company of Alvin Straight, touchingly portrayed by the late Richard Farnsworth, on his six week journey through autumnal landscapes as he meets a runaway hitchiker, becomes embroiled in a cycle race, relies on the kindness of strangers when his lawnmower periodically grinds to a halt and much more besides. Even the title of the film is a nod to the fact that this is not your average David Lynch film, The Straight Story eschewing the twisting darkness of the director's usual fare to present an unashamedly old-fashioned and sweet tale. "My brother and I said some unforgivable things the last time we met," says Alvin of Lyle. "But I'm trying to put that behind me and this trip is a hard swallow of my pride. I just hope I'm not too late... a brother's a brother." The personal nature of Alvin's odyessy makes it all the more important and allows the viewer to root for the character to make it to Lyle's house in his chosen fashion.
That Alvin's journey is such an eccentric and tortuously slow one allows Lynch to amusingly riff on the road picture elements of his body of work, slyly subverting our expectations of what to expect from him as a director and storyteller. When, for example, Alvin sets off on his travels, we see the familiar POV shot of yellow lines in the middle of the road coming towards us but we can see every detail to indicate Alvin's modest speed in contrast to the usual blurred yellow lines shooting at us as a car races down a lonely stretch of road. A swooping crane shot takes us away from Alvin crawling along on his lawn mower to clouds and then presently back to him - but he's hardly moved at all in the meantime! Lynch throws in some nice visual jokes like this at the start of Alvin's journey. Despite the fact there isn't a cherry pie, backward talking dwarf or nightmarish dream sequence in sight, The Straight Story still though has some enjoyable little Lynchian moments and elements. The wonderful and atmospheric use of stars early in the picture, Rose's strange obsession with bird-houses, and the bickering twin mechanics that Alvin meets. Although The Straight Story is probably the most normal film David Lynch has ever made Alvin's journey is always somewhat surreal, not least because of the manner he has chosen to undertake it!
The film features lovely photography by the veteran Freddie Francis and the rural landscapes make a very pleasant backdrop at times with morning mists and sweeping overhead shots of combine harvesters at work and rolling fields. There is a nice sequence too where Alvin's lawn mower careers out of control down a steep hill and we see a strange burning building in the background. Naturally this has a mundane explanation but it's another little flash of Lynch weirdness in an otherwise straight film. The man against the odds theme is nicely conveyed by Alvin's diminutive lawn mower slowly chugging along and frequently being overtaken by huge noisy trucks and there are some lovely vignettes along the way, including a meeting between Alvin and a young hitchhiker who has run away from her family. Alvin's fireside chat to the hitchhiker is gently touching, as are scenes where he is temporarily taken in by a family when his lawn mower breaks down. "You're a kind man talking to a stubborn man," says Alvin when offered a lift to Lyle's house. "I still want to finish this the way I started it." The Straight Story is a charming slice of small town Americana with both humour and drama.
Alvin's encounters with various ordinary characters on the road create plenty of nice little moments that stay in the memory and Farnsworth always gives a great performance as the proud, flawed, but decent Alvin Straight, a man who has seen practically all that life can throw up and now has one last thing to do before it becomes too late. "Well," says Alvin when asked about getting old. "I can't imagine anything good about being blind and lame at the same time but at my age I've seen about all that life has to dish out. I know to separate the wheat from the chaff, and let the small stuff fall away." Alvin's homespun wisdom is pleasantly indicative of the old-fashioned nature of a film that is a good natured, slow-moving and rewards those who fall for its many quiet and subdued charms. Even something as simple as Alvin drinking some beer for the first time in years is strangely moving. The film belongs to Farnsworth but Sissy Spacek is also touching as Rose and it's nice to see Lynch regulars Harry Dean Stanton and Everett McGill in the cast.
The Straight Story is a David Lynch film that people of all ages can enjoy. It's poignant and charming with interesting backdrops and memorable encounters on the road between Alvin and the people he meets. Highly recommended.
The Straight Story is a film that has everything summed up in it's title. There are no plot twists and intricate weavings between the characters. This may sound pretty boring but to be quite honest this is one of the best films I've seen in ages. Based on a true story, Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) is an old man; he's poor, has little money and is incredibly stubborn in some respects. The only person close to him is his mentally slow daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek). One day he receives a phone call telling him that his estranged brother has suffered a stroke. Alvin feels the need to make amends but his brother lives a long way across America. Alvin can't drive and doesn't like being driven so he uses the only method of transport available to him....A Lawnmower. The Straight Story is about Alvin's 6-week trip across America at a snails pace and that's pretty much it. But this is a film about a journey of life, one mans journey and one man's time alone to reflect on life. He meets various people on his travels and encounters various pitfalls that can happen when driving a lawnmower. Director David Lynch actually plays things in a slow manner with such an assured hand while Farnsworth is excellent and well deserving of his Oscar nod for the performance. It's a crime that this actually didn't get more recognition because in these troubled times it's a film that makes you feel that everything is okay with the world. Lynch's films that have arrived on dvd haven't been feature packed by a long shot and the director shows no real interest in getting involved with the format. I keep this in mind while writing this opinion. One of the things that strikes you about the film is the stunning cinematography. It's beautiful and really captures the rural side of America's open countryside with wonderful colour and clarity. Thankfully this is all done justice in a 2.35:1 anamorphic tra
nsfer. The quality is pin sharp with spot on colour and flesh tones. Only a few occasions did I notice a minor print blemish that vanished in the blink of an eye. The sound as well was quite surprising. I didn't expect much from the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix but there are some good uses of rear sound effects throughout as well a few good instances of bass when a thunderstorm kicks in. Above all else the dialogue channel is clear while Angelo Badalamenti's score sounds great. On the downside there were occasions where a pop could be heard on the soundtrack but again it's no big deal. As for the extras well all you get is a trailer as well as a score static menu. But this is all I expected and to be honest I didn't really want to know the ins and outs of the film's production. There are times when I lower a dvd rating because of the lack of extras but this has a stunning transfer and decent sound and basically the film is a real joy and stands up without anything extras to sway your purchasing decision. I got this for £9.99 in the HMV sale, I suggest you rush down and get a copy yourself. It's the perfect relaxation film and something to doze off with in a good way.
This is a very friendly cute pick indeed and you would well advised to watch it on a lazy Sunday afternoon if you want to avoid mowing the lawn or worse. Richard Farnsworth is mesmeric as Iowa old timer Alvin Straight who sets out to visit his brother 300 miles away in the next state after he suffers a stroke and to mend broken bridges. But our old fool is not in the best of health with failing hips and eyes and decides the best way to travel is on his beloved motorized lawnmower much to the angst of his stuttering daughter Marie, (Sissy Spacek). He roles out of town at three miles an our on his souped up mower, much to the mirth of his aging friends and hardly makes it out of town until the engine blows, although he did pass Jenson Button in the new Benneton. Alvin is towed back into town on the back of a truck much to the relief f his daughter and his drinking buddies who all think he is clean out of his mind. But our hero is not deterred and buys a new/old mower for $350 bucks and sets out yet again on his quest to mend what needs to be mended. Two days into his trip over the bland Iowa countryside of corn and more corn he makes several encounters along the road including a young girl who thumbs a ride from an old guy on a three mile an hour lawnmower. It’s probably the first time a guy didn’t stop for a sexy hitchhiker in movie history. For some inexplicable reason, the young wench didn’t get a ride that day and she bumps into the girl late at night and they share some wieners (sausage) and he puts her to bed under the night sky with plenty of old boy wisdom about running away from stuff. He meets a variety of people on the road from sponsored cyclist, to agricultural engineers and everyone is overly friendly to him as the tempo of the film is all the way through as he dispenses his words of wisdom. Theres a beautiful scene were he meets an old World War tow vet who reminisces war stories with him as the two reca
ll there dead friends from the conflict as young men.”For every year I get older, they have lost”. There are some strange moments to during his oddessy including the God loving animal lover that drives the same route to work through the Iowa fields and has flattened 9 dear in three months. She can’t understand why God is testing her so much. The scenery and music wash over you like tranquil rain, as you can’t help admire this wise old geezer who roles relentlessly on to his brother side. When he crosses the great Mississippi River, his face lights up as he knows his journey is nearly over. This is very relaxing soothing two hours of celluloid caressed by atmospheric music and images of the wide-open arable spaces of Middle America. David Lynch directs in his unique peaceful way with lots of silences and dark night shots where you can’t see the actors but here the gentle dialogue. It’s a true feel good movie that tugs at your soul strings making you feel rather good and wholesome. I have traveled a lot around the world and this brings back good feelings and memories of the road in the US and the good people you meet through experience and kind.If you’re a dreamer and drifter then this is the one for you.
Possibly one of the slowest pace films you will ever watch, but a good film nonetheless. Whilst virtually impossible not to give *the plot* away, the story tells of an old man, 73 year old Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), who attempts to travel some 260 miles from Iowa to Wisconsin to visit his brother Lyle who has had a stroke, and to whom he has not spoken for 10 years. This may not sound like much of a story, but it is the fact that he travels this distance alone on a lawnmower and trailer, which is so fascinating. Although the people I first watched this film with managed to laugh through much of the beginning of the film, as a result of the slow pace of the narrative, I did enjoy this film very much. Far from most people’s idea of a film directed by David Lynch (see Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway etc…), The Straight Story does contain some excellent cinematography and some wonderful views of the American landscape, as well as some deeper tales and thought-provoking scenes. I think it is Lynch’s observations of the stranger, and even, quieter, members of American society, which make his films so interesting. Many of the shots used are reminiscent of other Lynch films, for example at the beginning, the panning, sweeping shot of the white weather-board houses, and the picket fences (Blue Velvet?!) If you are a Lynch fan, this film will perhaps not be what you are expecting, yet, you will not be disappointed. The quirks, the oddities, the characters are there; it is just the pace of the film which might perhaps put you off. As Alvin sets off on his lawnmower for the first time, and the machine cuts out on him, forcing him to return and start from scratch, my fellow film viewers were nearly in tears of laughter at the prospect of this painfully slow journey beginning again. Sissy Spacek is good as Alvin’s daughter Rose, who has a very noticeable speech defect, and is a little *slow*, building bird boxes
for a living. As a character, she too has a history, which is told through Alvin to a hitchhiker he meets along the way, and we are made to feel something more for her than some irritation at her speech impediment (another source of amusement for my fellow viewers), although she does not feature *that* heavily in the narrative. Harry Dean Stanton also appears as Lyle, Alvin’s brother, and gives a credible, if short performance. The characters are believable, the story simple, and apparently true (the end credits give an “in memory of Alvin Straight”), and the landscapes realistic. If you are looking for any kind of action, don’t look here. However, if you are looking for some of the best and most realistic acting I have ever seen, and some fantastic cinematography, check it out. The characters are likeable, particularly Alvin (which is pretty important, considering we are with him intensively throughout the film, on his journey). The film’s only message if any seems to be the importance of family, with Alvin describing family as “a bundle of twigs”, as opposed to a single twig (strength in family - the combination of lots of the same, making a stronger unit than just one). To paraphrase, Alvin tells the twin mechanics that fix his vehicle along the way, that “nothing is more important than brothers”. It has poetic qualities to it, and a feeling of a painting about it - the sunsets over Iowa wheat fields, the silhouette of Alvin on his lawnmower set against the sky, the differences in weather conditions, the starry skies seen far away from the streets lights of a town – not only is the sky clearer in the country, but it seems to have the ability to clear the mind as well. It has been described as a “slow walk through the heartland (of America)”, and I think it enforces the importance of silence and contemplation (just looking up at the stars), just as much
as speaking and filling the air with sound. It concentrates on the ageing process and what it involves to have spent a long time acting in certain ways, or doing certain things, and then focuses through Alvin on what is really important in life (family) and disregarding what isn’t (disagreements). I should of course not forget to mention the soundtrack, which was perfectly suited to the story. It added the right kind of mood to the film – the slow lazy guitar, violin and Country twangs, emphasising the slow movement of the lawnmower and narrative, and the part of the world it was set in. I only wish I had been fortunate enough to have seen this at the cinema, as I think it would have had greater effect (and my co-watchers wouldn’t have been able to make so much noise!) I will definitely watch this film again, and my advice to those who are a little impatient over the slow pace narrative is: just give it a chance and you won’t regret it. Some of the awards for The Straight Story: Richard Farnsworth was nominated at the 2000 Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and won an Independent Spirit Award in the same category. NYFCC (New York Film Critics Circle) Awards gave the film the Best Actor Award (Richard Farnsworth), and Best Cinematography (Freddie Francis). Very slow pace film, simple *straight* story, documentary-like in the most part, believable characters and beautifully shot.
Alvin's eyesight is deteriating along with his health and he can't stand being driven anywhere by someone else. When he discovers his estranged brother has had a near fatal stroke he decides to go and see him on the last available transport he can drive....his lawnmower. The Straight Story covers Alvin's six week journey to see his brother , the many meetings with strangers on the way (Alvin leaves his impression on everyone) and the hundreds of miles he worries about the fate of his brother. This film is wonderfully acted particularly by Richard Farnsworth (Alvin), Sissy Spacek as his daughter Rose, and a nice ,if short cameo by Harry Dean Stanton. This is probably my favourite David Lynch film, partly because of its slow, gentle nature (it will be a suprise to those that have seen Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart). The cinematography and screenplay are absolutely spot on but what really makes this film is the moody and odd soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti. Be warned however, the pace IS slow, and the script is sadly sentimental but heart-warming at the same time. Definitely one if your feeling melancholy, wonderful.
Throughout The Straight Story, 73-year-old Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) gazes calmly at the night sky, as if the stars were reflections of his own memories. When he hears his brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton), with whom he hasn't spoken in years, is ailing Alvin decides to go visit him and make peace. But since Alvin's eyesight is bad and his daughter (Sissy Spacek) refuses to drive him, he sets out on the 500-mile journey from Laurens, Iowa to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin on a John Deere lawnmower. It's slow going, so there's plenty of time to stop for the night and ponder the cosmos. Along the way, he befriends a variety of nice folks, and you have to ask yourself: is this really a David Lynch movie? It's a miracle that this wholesome film was made by a director whose work is often described as twisted and bizarre. But Lynch is too complex an artist to be labelled, and he brings charm, grace and kindness to this story based on a newspaper clipping. Moreover, The Straight Story has a serenity rarely found in movies anymore. It's a film of moments--funny, odd, quietly spiritual--and this simple tale of a man, a lawnmower and rural hospitality becomes a genuine Lynchian odyssey, unlike any film you've seen but as welcoming as a cup of lemon tea with honey. Best of all, it's a fitting tribute to the career of veteran stuntman-actor Farnsworth who, at age 79, plays Alvin Straight to sheer perfection, his face a subtle roadmap to a broad spectrum of emotional destinations. --Jeff Shannon