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The Straight Story
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David Lynch is the director, but don't expect to see David Duchovny in a dress. Lynch leaves the quirky Twin Peaks behind in this Disney film about a true-life folk hero.
Alvin Straight is a quiet, dignified working man in Iowa who is getting old. His eyesight is starting to fail, he needs two canes to walk around and the state took away his driver's license. Alvin lives with his daughter, Rose (Sissy Spacek), a mentally challenged woman whose life is dominated by suffering and loss. Like Alvin, she has led a long life and remembers better times.
One day, our hero gets some bad news. His estranged brother has suffered a stroke. Due to a silly argument, it has been almost 10 years since they last spoke. Now, Alvin wants to see his brother before it is too late.
Unfortunately, his brother lives about 330 miles away in Mount Zion, Wisconsin. No buses run to that town, and Rose is incapable of driving such a long distance. How will Alvin get there? He'll drive his lawnmower.
Can Alvin make it across the state in this dilapidated contraption? Will his brother talk to him?
Alvin's journey to Mount Zion is a personal journey to explore his own soul. As he rides along the road, Alvin looks back on a full, eventful life that didn't always go the way he planned. While his mistakes may fill him full of regret, every few miles, he meets another lonely, struggling soul who needs his wisdom and compassion. This makes him realize that things aren't so bad as long as you have family.
Lynch, along with writers Mary Sweeney and John Roach, sets a perfect soft, sensitive tone. They avoid making the film overly sentimental and keep the focus on our main character without adding inconsequential and distracting secondary characters. Cinematographer Freddie Francis is able to capture the beauty and isolation of Alvin's path to redemption by filling the film with beautiful shots of the scenery and the vast open plains of Iowa. This, combined with great music, adds to the overall tone of the film.
Ultimately, the film succeeds due to Richard Farnsworth's portrayal of Alvin Straight. A former stuntman and double for Roy Rogers, Farnsworth has a made a career out character acting, but he steps up to the plate as the lead character with great success. He gives a subtle, yet powerful performance.
Cuddle up on the couch with someone you love and enjoy this little treasure this weekend.
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Mary Sweeney and John Roach
Richard Farnsworth . . Alvin Straight
Sissy Spacek Rose
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