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A thoughtful film for thoughtful viewers.
WLFBoulder25 November 2004
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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Surprisingly deep
munchtipq1 December 2000
Warning: Spoilers
I went into The Straight Story expecting a sad/happy type drama with nice direction and some good acting. These I got. What I wasn't expecting was an allegory for the trials of human existence. Leave it to Lynch to take a simple story about a 300 mile trip on a lawnmower and turn it into a microcosm for the human condition.

If you didn't notice, watch it again, paying attention to the ages of the people Alvin meets, the terrain he's driving through, the reactions people give him, the kinds of discussions he has (one of the first is about pregnancy and children, one of the last is outside of a cemetery). The last road he drives down is particulary haunting in this context, as it narrows and his fear and nervousness mount. The last mechanical failure could be seen as a death, and the miraculous rebirth of his engine relating to an afterlife, in which he achieves the desired reunion.

I only hope some of the people who branded this as a slow sappy melodrama take the time to watch with a more holistic attention.
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Great story
ThiMoN10 June 2003
This is not a movie for fans of the usual eerie Lynch stuff. Rather, it's for those who either appreciate a good story, or have grown tired of the run-of-the-mill stuff with overt sentimentalism and Oprah-ish "This is such a wonderful movie! You must see it!"-semantics (tho' she IS right, for once!).

The story unfolds flawlessly, and we are taken along a journey that, I believe, most of us will come to recognize at some time. A compassionate, existentialist journey where we make amends för our past when approaching ourt inevitable demise.

Acting is without faults, cinematography likewise (occasionally quite brilliant!), and the dialogue leaves out just enough for the viewer to grasp the details od the story.

A warm movie. Not excessively sentimental.
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Nothing Runs Likes a Deere.
tfrizzell12 May 2004
A beautiful and very emotional "Harry and Tonto"-styled movie experience as Oscar-nominee Richard Farnsworth (playing the real-life Alvin Straight) decides to travel on his old riding John Deere mower from Iowa to Wisconsin to see his ailing brother (Harry Dean Stanton) because his driver's license has been revoked, he doesn't like public transportation and he has no one else to drive him. The two brothers have not been on speaking terms for many years and now the clock is literally ticking on one last chance for them to see one another and hopefully make amends for past mistakes. Sissy Spacek gives one of her finest performances as Farnsworth's slightly mentally retarded daughter and the supporting players are all real and heartfelt caricatures of America's heartland. Outstanding film-maker David Lynch (to me the finest living American director, along with Martin Scorsese) goes totally out-of-character with a 180-degree turn from whacked triumphs like "The Elephant Man", "Blue Velvet", "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" and "Mulholland Dr.". He quietly and methodically creates a G-rated family film that has deep messages for people of all ages and backgrounds. He paints a picture of America where the old ways of life are still the most important. Farnsworth (who is a total revelation) was in excruciating pain throughout filming due to terminal cancer and terrible arthritis. Notice he stands very little in the movie and he is almost always filmed from the waist up. Sadly this would be his final performance as he committed suicide shortly after his Oscar nod. He did become the oldest nominee ever in the Best Actor category, but really that will become trivial as time passes and his role will be the thing that shines brightly forever. Truly a legacy production for all involved. 5 stars out of 5.
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An absolutely gorgeous film
trimmtrabb62017 February 2002
I have always been a fan of David Lynch and with this film Lynch proved to critics that he has the talent, style, and artistic integrity to make films outside of the surreal aura that he's become known for in the past decade. As much as the film is G-rated, it's pure Lynch in style, pacing, and tone. The film moves at a masterfully hypnotic pace and is filled with scenes of genuine emotion and power.

The cinematography is terrific, as is to be expected from a Lynch film, and the transitional montage sequences are breathtaking. It's also very refreshing to see a film where the characters are all friendly, kindhearted folk and not unmotivated characters that are clearly labeled as being either "good" or "evil".

Richard Farnsworth turns in a beautiful performance as do the rest of the cast, most notably Sissy Spacek in an endearing performance as his daugher, and Harry Dean Stanton in a small but infinitely crucial role.

With this film, David Lynch proved to critics that he could make a powerful moving motion picture just like he did in the 80's with 'Blue Velvet' and 'The Elephant Man'. Critics seemed to lose faith in the past decade after he produced such surreal films as 'Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me' and 'Lost Highway' but with this film he showed that there was method to FWWM and LH, and it looks as if critics finally caught on with his recent film 'Mulholland Drive', considering the high praise it's received and the Oscar nomination for Lynch.

'Straight Story' is to me one of the most moving motion pictures I've ever seen. It's a loving story about family, friendship, and the kindness of strangers. I would highly recommend it.
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A Shockingly-Straight Story From David Lynch
ccthemovieman-129 May 2006
"A truly nice story with a moral about brotherly love" describes this odd David Lynch film. This was especially "odd" because it wasn't the kind of film Lynch had been putting out in the last 15 -20 years. Those were dark and shocking films (Blue Velvet, Wild At Heart, Mulholland Drive) and this is the opposite. I know it disappointed a lot of his fans. Others were delighted by it. Count me as one of the latter, and I own all three of those "dark" films, too.

This was another supposed-true life story, here detailing an elderly man's trip in a seated lawnmower from western Iowa all the way to Wisconsin to see his ailing brother who he hasn't talked to in years but wants to see before the latter dies. Well, I guess that premise - an old man driving a lawn mower 400 miles - still makes this an "odd" film of sorts, so Lynch stays in character with that!

Richard Farnsworth plays the title role. He is the type of guy, face-wise, voice-wise, low-key personality-wise, that just about everyone likes. The wrinkles on his face tell many a story. It was so sad to hear what happened to him in real life a year after this film was released.

The first 25 minutes of this film isn't much, and not always pleasant as it shows the main character's adult and mentally-challenged child (Sissy Spacek) and her tragic past, but once Alvin Straight (Farnsworth) begins his trip, the story picks up. I played this for several friends and they thought the film NEVER picked up, but I am more generous with it. I think it's a hidden gem. To them, it was a sleeping pill.

I found his trip pretty fascinating but you have to realize in advance this is NOT going to be a suspenseful Lynch crime story. It IS slow and if that's okay with you, you might like this. Charm enters the picture in some of people Alvin meets along the way, such as a wayward young girl running away and some nice town folks who help the old man out when he gets in trouble. (Henry Cada as "Daniel Riordan, is a standout in that regard.) Harry Dean Stanton gets third billing, but that's a joke: he's only in the final few minutes of the movie!

The Iowa scenery is pleasant. I lived there for several years and can attest to the rolling hills and the rich soil. It's a nice state with nice this movie.
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This movie aimed for my heart and hit the bull's eye
philip_vanderveken30 June 2005
Who would have thought that a movie about a man who drives a couple hundreds of miles on his lawn mower to see his brother, could possibly be good cinema? I certainly didn't. I thought I knew what to expect: one of the most boring experiences of my life. Well I was as wrong as I haven't been wrong too often yet, because this is one of the best, most realistic and honest Hollywood films I've ever seen...

Giving a short resume of "The Straight Story" isn't very difficult. It's about an old and stubborn man who steps on his lawn mower and drives off to another state to pay his brother a visit when he hears that the man has had a severe stroke. That's already special on itself, but what makes it even more special is the fact that he hasn't seen his brother in ten years because of some stupid argument. In the meantime he has his share of bad luck and problems, but he also meets a lot of people whose lives he influences in one way or another with his philosophical approach to life. Despite all the difficulties he drives on for weeks, not knowing if he will reach his goal: seeing his brother again before it's too late...

I can easily understand why there are people who don't like this movie and that's also the reason why I will not say that these people don't have a heart or things like that... This movie hasn't got any flashy action scenes, it is as slow as the lawn mower the man is driving on and no, you don't have to watch it for the nice soundtrack either, because there isn't any. But why should you watch it then? Well, the simple answer is the story. I haven't seen such a touching movie with such a powerful story very often and the fact that this actually comes from Hollywood and - to make things even better - from the Disney Studio's (that's right, the same studios that overwhelm us with sugar sweet nonsense) makes it even more special. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had the tears in my eyes a couple of times while watching it, probably because the whole situation of not seeing someone for many years because of some stupid argument is all too realistic for me.

Some people will argue that the story is very shallow, but I really don't agree with that. Perhaps it is because they only see that old man driving on his lawn mower and don't want to think any further. If you look close enough than you'll understand that this man is doing all this because he knows he has once been wrong, that only his pride stood in the way of seeing his brother again and that he wants everybody else to see that too, so they won't make the same mistake. If that isn't deep enough, how much deeper does a story have to go for you then?

I would also like to add that this movie really had it all. Some beautiful landscapes (finally an American movie that shows something else than the skyline of New York, Chicago or some other big city), some very fine acting by Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek,... and a very understandable way of telling despite the fact that this is a David Lynch movie. I know now that I was completely wrong by assuming that this movie wouldn't be to my taste. It's one of the very best movies I've seen in a long time. This movie aimed for my heart and hit the bull's eye. I give it the full 10/10.
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Slow, but steady
djfoster6 November 1999
It takes patience to get through David Lynch's eccentric, but-- for a change-- life-affirming chronicle of Alvin Straight's journey, but stick with it. Though it moves as slow as Straight's John Deere, when he meets the kind strangers along his pilgrimage we learn much about the isolation of aging, the painful regrets and secrets, and ultimately the power of family and reconciliation. Richard Farnsworth caps his career with the year's most genuine performance, sad and poetic, flinty and caring. And Sissy Spacek matches him as his "slow" daughter Rose who pines over her own private loss while caring for dad. Rarely has a modern film preached so positively about family.
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Lyrical love poem of a movie.
Sailbart10 November 1999
The Straight Story is a multilevel exploration of the goodness and beauty of America. At one level a slow walk through the heartland, it's kind inhabitants, and amber grain, at another level about growing old and remembering what is important(and actively forgetting what isn't). David Lynch gives us time in this movie and helps me to remember that so much can be said with silence. A remarkable movie that will rest gently with me for some time to come.
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Genuine rather than saccharine
SKG-221 January 2000
Whenever I hear a movie being touted because it has no sex, violence, bad language, special effects, and so on, my b.s. detector goes off. Usually, a movie like that is sentimental hogwash which panders to people who don't want anything to surprise them, but to affirm how superior they are to us craven folk. So when David Lynch's THE STRAIGHT STORY began getting those kinds of reviews, I was apprehensive, especially since I was not a fan of his other "uplifting" story, THE ELEPHANT MAN. For all the stunning images and the good acting in that film, it seemed more interested in preaching to us than inspiring us.

I needn't have worried. THE STRAIGHT STORY is an honest movie rather than a saccharine one. Most of that is due to the fact that Lynch and writers John Roach and Mary Sweeney tell it straight and simple for the most part. There are a couple of homilies by Straight I could have done without, and the shots of grain being harvested are repeated a little too much, but those are only quibbles. There's no heavy-handed message, no sentimental strings to jerk our emotions, and no condescension towards us and its characters. Instead, they depend on the story to build its own power, and it does, so by the final scene, we are genuinely moved.

Of course, casting Richard Farnsworth adds realism to the part. He really is someone who looks like he's lived through a lot but still perseveres, and except for those homilies, the desire he has to get back together with his brother doesn't seem overly sentimental, because you can sense here is someone who's lived too long and seen too much to be driven by anger for long. And he knows his time is running out, so he wants to make some peace, not only with his brother, but with his life. Sissy Spacek also does fine, unmannered work as Straight's daughter. And although I am a city and suburban boy, the Iowa and Wisconsin landscape are beautifully shot, making me want at least to visit some day.
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A Slice of America
michael-3984 October 2000
After seeing this film I feel like I know just a little bit more about the USA. David Lynch is synonymous with shock value and weird for weirdness sake, and indeed these elements are not missing from The Straight Story. However it is in a light that I have not witnessed from Lynch before. We begin with a simple family living a quiet life but end up with an array of absurdly interesting characters with depth in their lives that cannot be apparent from their introduction. Especially moving was the bar scene with two WWII veterans discussing the events of fifty years ago and how it still affected their current lives and emotions. If you are looking for Wild at Heart or Dune, don't look here. But if you are looking for real people with real stories this is the film for you.
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Two Old Crows Live Here... A Road Trip movie from David Lynch
CihanVercan5 October 2008
Titled after the family names of two brothers, The Straight Story is a true American classic. It would be a very good choice to watch, when you get together with your family.

The Straight Story has its plainness and "straight"ness, as the first thing to say. The plainness segment includes no technical features; no audio or video aspects, no set decoration or cinematography work, no make-up and no costume. In fact with the use of this plainness David Lynch brings the restful country life to your view.

Taking a road trip from Iowa to Wisconsin, a World War-II veteran plunges unhesitatingly into the river of his passion, driving his way with a 1966 John Deere lawnmower, and with his defect of eyesight. I didn't know the lawnmowers are made for traffic since I watch this film. Well, nothing is strange enough in David Lynch' s point of view. Despite this strangeness Lynch offers a complete sagacity through Alvin Straight(Richard Farnsworth)'s successful acting and Sissy Spacek as his daughter accompanying him. Thus, you get the straightness segment through those dialogues full of sagacity.

Lynch has filmed his story along the roads that the real life Alvin Straight traveled in 1994. Wisely, Lynch dished out his work very economically except he has used a helicopter to let us see how slowly Alvin driving his lawnmower on the road from bird's eye-view. Still, Lynch could have cut some of the scenes which overshadow the smooth style of the film. His Straight Story taught us the importance of finishing whatever we started.
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This is just one of those perfect films.
ofpsmith12 October 2014
Maybe I should be more specific. This film is great because of it's incredible story. Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) is an elderly man living with his daughter Rose Straight (Sissy Spacek) in Iowa. When he hears that his brother Lyle Straight (Harry Dean Stanton) had a stroke he heads over to his home in Wisconsin to check on him. But Alvin has no driver's license so he drives on a John Deere 110 lawn mower. It is based on the true story of Alvin Straight who drove his lawn mower to check on his suffering brother. What I like about this film is the story, the cinematography and especially the acting. Alvin drives and meets many people on his way, including a runaway girl, a bunch of cyclists, and a friendly family who fixes his tractor when it breaks. I don't want to give away the ending but it's really great. Check this one out.
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A wonderful road trip with a man and his trailer
andrewnerger7 October 2006
Upon The Straight Story release in 1999, it was praised for being David Lynch's first film that ignored his regular themes of the macabre and the surreal. Based on a true story of one man and his journey to visit his estranged brother on a John Deere '66 mower, at first glance its an odd story for Lynch to direct. Yet as the story develops you can see some of Lynch's trademark motifs coming through.

Lynch's focus on small town America and its inhabitants is still as prevalent as in his previous efforts such as Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks, but the most notable difference is that the weirdness is curbed down. The restrictions imposed means that the film has the notable accolade of being one of the few live action films that I can think of that features a G rating. Incredibly significant, this films stands as evidence that beautiful and significant family films can be produced.

The Straight Story was the first feature which Lynch directed where he had no hand at writing. For many Lynch devotees this was a huge negative point. Almost universally acclaimed, the only overly negative review by James Brundage of focused on this very criticism, that it wasn't a typical Lynch film. "Lynch is struggling within the mold of a G-Rated story that isn't his own." Brundage claims, with his protagonist Alvin Straight "quoting lines directly from Confucious." He argues that the story is weak and the dialogue even worse. Yet this is about the only criticism that many will read for the film. Whilst it is true that it is not Lynch in the sense of Eraserhead, Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive - all films which I also adore, The Straight Story features a different side of Lynch that is by no means terrible. If you are a Lynch fan, it is most important to separate that side of Lynch with this feature.

The narrative is slow and thoughtful, which gives you a real sense of the protagonist's thoughts as he travels to his destination. Alvin constantly is reminded about his past and his relationships with his wife, children and his brother. Yet particularly significant is that there are no flashbacks, which only adds to the effect, which reminded me of my conversations with my grandparents. The conclusion arrives like watching a boat being carried down a slow meandering river and it is beautiful to watch. The natural landscapes of the US are accentuated and together with the beautiful soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti, makes me yearn to go to America. The performances are also excellent with every actor believable in their roles and Richard Farnsworth is particularly excellent. His Oscar nomination was greatly deserved and it was a shame that he didn't win. Regardless, however it is probably the finest swan-song for any actor.

So whilst The Straight Story features none of Lynch's complex narratives or trademark dialogue, the film is a fascinating character study about getting old and comes highly recommended!
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A great film about aging, regret, and redemption. A beautiful experience.
darrendebari28 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
David Lynch usually makes films that resemble puzzles put together the wrong way. They are interesting to look at and think about but they really don't gel in your mind. Perhaps art will always mean the most to its creator.

The Straight Story is not a typical David Lynch film. Not that there's anything typical about them anyway. It's an odyssey through rural America. A real life journey Alvin Straight took on a lawn mower to get to his brothers house. He rode 300 miles from Laurens, Iowa to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin to make amends to his sick brother for past offenses.

At the heart of this film is sweet voiced Richard Farnsworth. He brings Alvin Straight right to us in a simple and honest way. The fact that the film is slow paced matches Alvin's slow journey toward realization.

Along the way Alvin meets a confused and frightened young girl. She is pregnant and has decided to run away from her situation. After listening to Alvin speak about family she reconsiders.

Later Alvin witnesses a distraught woman kill a deer with her car. She complains that she has killed several and leaves. Alvin feels bad but is smart enough to cook up some dear meat that night.

Later Alvin's lawn mower loses its brakes and nearly kills him. A nice man and his wife let him stay in their yard while he gets it fixed. They even let him call his sweet but slow daughter, nicely played by Sissy Spacek, whose haunted by a terrible tragedy in her own past. Alvin insists on paying for the call. The man even offers to drive Alvin to his brothers with pleasure. Alvin declines with thanks.

While Alvin waits he also goes off to a bar with a kindly old man as they discuss the harshness of war and the price it took on their souls. Alvin even confesses a fatal mistake he made as a sniper that has forever haunted him.

Alvin also encounters two bickering brothers who've repaired his lawn mower. He talks them down in price wisely calling them on their high labor and repair costs. He even helps them to appreciate one another learning from his own mistakes with his brother.

The night before Alvin leaves the man's yard he takes his hat off to him. The man tells him it was an honor having him stay and asks Alvin to write to him. This scene is perfect in it's simplicity. It's heartfelt because it's so straight, so real.

The journey continues and we can't help to get more and more involved with it. We want Alvin to get to his brothers. We want him to make amends. We want to know this world is full of forgiveness.

This was Richard Farnsworth at his best. It was his last film and his performance was amazing. You can't help but to understand his pride, to listen to his wisdom, and to ultimately feel his pain. One becomes as taken with him as the man who offers him his back yard to stay in.

If there's justice in the afterlife then Alvin Straight, his brother, and Richard Farnsworth are together sitting at a bar. I can picture them discussing their lives, regrets, hopes, and joys. As Alvin says in the film, "My brother and I used to look up at the stars." Well, I know they all are with the best view in the house.
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This is one of the greatest films I have ever seen.
Tom Murray26 April 2006
This is one of the greatest films I have ever seen: I glowed inside throughout the whole film. The music and cinematography held the spell when little was happening on screen. The slow pace was set by the mode of travel (a riding lawn mower with a big trailer) and was maintained by the background sights and sounds and the slow-paced lives of the other characters.

The story actually happened; Alvin Straight died in 1996 at the age of 76. There was no acting; everything was completely real, as if the actors had actually transformed into the characters. Sissy Spacek gave a poignant performance as a somewhat disabled daughter who had suffered much but forged ahead, always wanting to do the right thing. Richard Farnsworth was cast perfectly and he beautifully became Alvin Straight, a stubborn but loving elderly man who treks across Iowa to visit his estranged brother, Lyle, who has had a stroke. Alvin had learned much wisdom during his life and that seemed to bring out the best in the people that he encountered along the way.

The film underscores the importance of family to this man and, hopefully, to all of us. I eagerly anticipate seeing it again, and again. Directed by David Lynch, this films proves his directorial skill. Farnsworth was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor; at 79, he was the oldest nominee ever for that award.
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End of a long road for Alvin Straight
john-310919 January 2006
David Lynch's (1999) film of John Roach / Mary Sweeney's story is set in Iowa and Wisconsin some time well before the film's eventual release.

We come into the life of Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) late on in life. His medical condition is poor, his life is mostly behind him and he knows it.

This makes what he decides to do, even more remarkable and endearing. He decides (and at every point in the film his own name reverberates through his actions) to put a few things straight.

Alvin is, by this time in his life, a man of great experience but modest means. His daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek) struggles with a speech impediment that makes communication a great effort on the audience's behalf. But it's worth it, because Rose's story cannot help but come out as the film progresses.

This film is the story of a journey. But like all journeys it is a journey in the geographical sense and in the human sense. Early on in the film, we begin to understand that this is an ambitious journey, which no elderly gentleman of Alvin's age should reasonably undertake.

But along the way, we slowly learn how Alvin has so many qualifications which equip him to achieve his unlikely objective. His objective is very simple and straightforward. His brother is ill and likely to die and he wants to visit him. He has had a falling out with him many years ago and they have not spoken in a very long time.

Along the way, Alvin meets many people. The way he behaves towards them and the benefit they get from having known him is the essence of this film. We come to know who Alvin Straight is, from what Alvin Straight does. And at the end of the film, we know who we are .. better.
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Strychnine in the Candy
tedg13 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Lynch lives in a very troubled world. His pictures are characterized by being presented through the mind of the protagonist. Here, the protagonist is a simple old man, who thinks slowly and simply. So that's what we get. He has long erotic meditations on fecundity on the path of life (14 kids!), so that is what we see.

Lynch must be laughing into his gasmask at those who think this is a Hallmark card. Consider these Lynchisms:

-- the deerslaying woman (killed the same number of deer as Straight had kids)

-- the man in the bar sharpening his knife

-- the graveyard

-- the `twin' with the jaw prosthetic

-- the burning house

-- the fat useless woman from next door

-- the WWII hauntings

-- the retarded daughter who has had her children taken away (and the mirror of the pregnant runaway who likely will also)

-- the brother's glance at the end. Look at it again if you think it is appreciative reconciliation. That glance is why they needed an actor of the caliber of Stanton who was also familar to Lynch.

Add to this the notion that Farnsworth knew he was dying and had already planned suicide. This is a very disturbed world, reinterpreted through the elder Kurosawan eye of the determined elder Straight to seem more desperately rosey than it is. Consider this like the first half of "Mulholland Drive," and a more intelligent film it is, because it asks you to provide the last half.

The magic in the movie is not that it is saccharin, nor that it has strychnine, but that it is an homage to other filmmakers: Altman, Kurosawa, de Palma, Greenaway. Straight has his memories which he plays over and over, and so does Lynch.
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funny and bitter sweet
SnoopyStyle28 March 2015
73-year-old Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) from Laurens, Iowa takes a tumble. His challenged daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek) is concerned. He won't let his doctor do tests. Then he receives word that his estrange brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) had a stroke. He is determined to go see his brother in Wisconsin. He can't drive and there's no bus. So he decides to modify his lawn mower for the long trip.

This is an interesting little indie. There are a lot of tiny oddities in this. First this is directed by David Lynch without any of his usual surreal touches. He is really gentle here letting Farnsworth do his acting. There are some quirky touches here and there. He puts in some beautiful music. Spacek makes an interesting choice with her stutter. She has a funny moment in the beginning. Alvin is an old self-reliant guy. He's charming in his old school ways. The story is funny and bitter sweet.
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Bond of Brothers
AbhiMathews29 June 2014
The Straight Story is a movie that's different from most I've seen.

A man who's lived an aged life tries to enjoy every second to the fullest until the grave. After going to the doctor after one too many falls, though, he realizes his own mortality and the great impact it will have on those closest to him. As his life is slowly changing, he gets a call from his estranged brother, who's just suffered a stroke.

People face numerous challenges throughout their lives. Some are overcome independently and some are even lifelong. Going across states while you can barely walk is one thing; driving across in a lawnmower is another. After facing turbulent weather, lonesome strangers and making unexpected friends along the way, this entire journey is a final reflection.

Life is certainly short. It's best to make peace while we still can.
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Richard Farnsworth's swan song; David Lynch on his best behavior
The_late_Buddy_Ryan21 June 2014
This project was launched by David Lynch's editor (and future wife), Mary Sweeney, who secured the rights and co-wrote the screenplay, then it really took off when Lynch himself signed on to direct and stuntman-turned-character-actor Richard Farnsworth was "coaxed out of semiretirement" (I read somewhere online) to play the lead. As often seems to happen with "based on a true story" movies, the script gets stretched pretty thin at times (the parable about the sticks that Straight tells the teenage runaway seemed familiar from grade school), and the backstory that slowly emerges may seem a little too pat, but Farnsworth's disarmingly natural acting style is just right for the part, and Lynch's eye for the hidden beauty of the nondescript landscape and his perfect pacing bring out all the drama and poignancy of Alvin Straight's journey. Straight's story made me think of what Woody Grant in Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" might have been like if he'd managed to turn his life around.
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It's hard to imagine that this was directed by David Lynch!
MartinHafer26 December 2014
David Lynch is a director known for the weirdness of many of his films. After all, he's helmed "Eraserhead", "Blue Velvet", "Dune" and "Twin Peaks"--all very weird films by anyone's standards. However, here he's made a film that is very different in tone from his other famous work--and I wouldn't have suspected he could make such a 'normal' film. Perhaps this is because unlike most of his work, he didn't write "The Straight Story"--just directed it. Regardless, it's an exceptional film--one that is really unlike anything else I've seen--and I have seen and reviewed A LOT of films.

The film is based on a true story that occurred a few years before the film was made. Alvin Straight was a 73 year-old man whose brother suffered a stroke. Alvin did not have a driver's license, as he had poor vision and was in pretty poor health. So, in order to make it to his brother's home hundreds of miles away, Alvin rigged up a trailer onto his riding mower and set out on a journey that would take him well over a month!

While the subject matter is pretty mundane and the story rather slow-going (mostly because Alvin Straight's journey was a very slow one), the film managed to be quite entertaining. The script was excellent, Lynch's direction lovely and Richard Farnsworth was terrific in the film as Alvin Straight. Overall, despite being such a simple story, it is a very special sort of film--one that folks who don't demand action and excitement will enjoy.
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Another triumph for Lynch
bartonim2 April 2006
This film is in some ways a very different David Lynch film. On the one hand, it features a story about family ties that even a, well, family could watch together. On the other, it has no violence or unnecessary adult language or content. Yet upon careful viewing, one finds the Straight Story has a sort of surreal realism, the kind that Lynch is so good at tapping into and bringing to life.

Apart from its fine direction, rich cinematography and terrific acting, the Straight Story also features a spellbinding music soundtrack that adds to the film's atmosphere--one populated by ordinary people who ultimately prove themselves extraordinary.
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Very not mainstream despite the 'straight' storyline.
hans_damm20 February 2004
[No Spoilers]

Being a David Lynch film, one could have the idea that it depicts that enigmatic mind of his like the majority of his feature films do. But it is a very straight story as the title might hint. Don't except to be caught in the usual Lynchian void of incomprehensibility that usually occurs after viewing i.e. Lost Highway. It is a simple film but it is indeed a great film. That is both from a innovative and an entertaining aspect. It's innovative because it so not Lynch. But maybe that IS Lynch. He likes to twist our minds and therefore puts together a film that might seem very mainstream and far from Lynch himself. Being a very avantgarde director, he might just make a film like this just to tease his regular audience because he knows what they expect but he doesn't give it to them. That would be crafty.

The pace of the film is slow. I would almost say lawn mower speed... Don't expect an action orgy, but the film is truly entertaining for the ones who go with the flow of the film. Look carefully for those small details that Lynch plot throughout the movie for our entertainment. Look for the great cinematography that makes this film come to life. And listen to Badalamenti's score and the main theme that really animates the Iowa and Wisconsin landscapes shown frequently.

Farnsworth puts in one of his best performances in this film, making him one of the most likeable ol' men ever depicted on film. He doesn't have to say anything to express his feelings and thoughts. His cheerfulness just shines right through him and his acting earned him an Oscar nomination. Need I say that his weak health in this film wasn't acted? He was diagnosed with cancer and shot himself right after this film was complete. That knowledge just puts more emphasis on the film because it becomes more of a homage to Farnsworth.

All of the above form a very nice motion picture that is suitable for all kinds of people that like a film the way they are supposed to be done. One could ask for homilies that aren't that obvious and a bit naive but it doesn't ruin the overall picture, being that it is a memorable motion picture. 9/10.
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"Extraordinarily Uncon-Lynch-tional!" (Not a Spoiler)
ncarmadilloman14 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This is a biographical account of an amazing journey made by seventy-three year old Alvin Straight in the mid-nineteen nineties. Straight is struggling to come to terms with his own mortality when he learns that his estranged brother is also having health issues that may ultimately leave them with unresolved issues.

All of his associates seem to agree that Alvin remains of sound mind and, for the time being, that seems to be enough to counter balance his rapidly advancing physical deficiencies. That is until he reveals the unconventional and extremely dangerous method of travel that he plans to use to make the approximate three hundred and fifty mile trip to visit his brother Lyle.

I can't imagine that there's anyone in Hollywood who could have played the leading role of Alvin Straight better than Richard Farnsworth, whose performance earned him an Oscar Nomination for Best Actor. Sissy Spacek's portrayal of his mentally challenged daughter Rose, is phenomenal as well. They never pinpoint her affliction, but I'm guessing that it's some form of autism. She stutters badly and is somewhat slow-witted, but highly independent and has an uncanny knack for remembering facts, historical and otherwise. The brevity of her on screen appearance may well have been the only thing that kept her from receiving yet another Academy Award Nomination for her work here.

Prior to seeing the opening credits I had no knowledge, whatsoever, of the actual making of the film. When I saw the "G Rating"; I was surprised. When I saw that it was a Walt Disney Production, I was intrigued, but you could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized that David Lynch was its director.

This only helped to confirm what I'd felt all along. David Lynch's talents, in terms of style and imagery, are bound by nothing, including his lack of involvement in the writing of this piece. Despite the limitations of the MPAA rating and the guidelines of Walt Disney, which I imagine are at least somewhat restrictive, this was Lynch in his classic style and at his finest. What he's done, in effect, is produce a work for all ages and cinematic taste without compromising his own technique. By the way, those of you who aren't familiar with his other work have no idea what I'm talking about. I hope that those of you who are can relate.

Although I only recently saw this film, over the years I had heard many wonderful things about its subject matter from individuals whose taste in movies I fully trust. With that in mind, there was little doubt that I would consider this to be anything less than tube time well spent. However, nothing anyone ever told me could have prepared me for the degree to which it would touch me on a personal level. Alvin Straight reminded me very much of my grandfather, who had a third grade education and is still the smartest man I've ever known. This film eloquently illustrates the patience, wisdom, courage and yes stubbornness of a generation that is all but extinct. While the elder generations are and will always be, in essence, living history, individuals like Straight are all but gone. Soon the option to listen and learn about past events, first hand, from the accounts of our contemporaries who remain uncorrupted by the influence of the modern age will be gone as well.
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