Seventy-three year old Alvin Straight is a simple living and stubborn man who lives on his social security. He needs to do things on his own terms. He is in failing health. Both his hips are shot, which requires him to use two canes to walk. He is diabetic. He has emphysema from years of smoking. And he has poor eyesight. Beyond the obvious maladies, he doesn't tell his mentally disabled daughter Rose, who lives with him, of many of these issues. He learns that his brother Lyle Straight, from who he has been estranged for ten years, has just suffered a heart attack. Because of both his and Lyle's mortality, Alvin wants to make peace with his brother before it's too late, which means traveling from his home in the rural town of Laurens, Iowa to Lyle's home in rural Mount Zion, Wisconsin. As with other issues in his life, he needs to make the trip on his own terms, which means on his own. As he doesn't possess a driver's license and since his eyesight is bad, he decides to make the trip...Written by
This film will be known as the last starring roles of two well-known and respected actors, Everett McGill and Richard Farnsworth. Until joining the revival for Twin Peaks (2017), McGill seemed to have retired from the film business, while Farnsworth died of an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound shortly after the film was released. See more »
While driving through West Bend, Iowa, Alvin is seen driving past the Grotto of the Redemption from right to left. This would be north to south, or following the jog in the highway, traveling east to west. See more »
Solo Spin Out
Written and Performed by The Radio Ranch Straight Shooters
By Arrangement with Roger and Julie Music See more »
A thoughtful film for thoughtful viewers.
Perhaps more than many films, this one is not for everyone. For some folks the idea of slowing down, reflecting and allowing things to happen in their own time is a good description of their personal hell. For others an approach like this speaks to some deep part of themselves they know exists, some part they long for contact with.
I suppose it's a function of where I am in my own life these days, but I count myself in the camp of the latter group. I found the meditative pace of this film almost hypnotic, gently guiding me into some realm almost mythological. This is indeed a journey story, a rich portrayal of the distance many of us must travel if we are to come full circle at the end of our days.
Much as been written of Mr Farnsworth's presentation of Alvin Straight, though I'm not sure there are words to express the exquisite balance of bemused sadness and wise innocence he conjured for us. Knowing now that he was indeed coming to terms with his own mortality as he sat on that tractor seat makes me wish I had had the opportunity to spend time with him before his departure. I hope he had a small glimmer of the satisfaction and truth he had brought to so many people, not just for "acting" but for sharing his absolute humanity with such brutal honesty.
Given the realities of production economics, I'm not sure full credit has been given Mr Lynch for the courage he showed in allowing the story to develop so slowly. An outsider to film production, I nonetheless understand there are few areas of modern life where the expression "time is money" is so accurately descriptive. Going deep into our hearts is not an adventure that can be rushed, and to his credit Mr Lynch seems to have understood that he was not simply telling a story--he was inviting his viewers to spend some time with their own mortality. No simple task, that.
If you'd like to experience the power of film to take introduce you to some precious part of yourself, you could do worse than spending a couple of hours with The Straight Story. And then giving yourself some time for the next little while simply listening to its echoes in the small hours of the night.
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