The Straight Story (1999)

straight story

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 9 out of 10

4-Word Review: Old man on lawnmower.

Richard Farnsworth plays Alvin Straight, an older man with health problems who decides to travel from Iowa to Wisconsin on a rider mower to visit his sick brother.

This film is a true achievement. For every flamboyantly bizarre film David Lynch has done he equals it here with his restraint. He truly proves himself a complete director and a sensitive one at that. He shows a deep respect for his subject and the area. Nothing is overplayed or exaggerated. It is the type of film no one thought Hollywood could do. Based on a true story they go along the same route the real Alvin took. The drama is not compromised and everything is handled in a dignified way. It propels itself on the quite eloquence of his journey and the people he meets. The soft pace is stunning especially when you realize that it is still quite captivating.

Farnsworth is perfect for the role. In many ways you feel he is Alvin Straight. He exudes so much of the same qualities of the character that you are convinced that they share some spiritual connection. His lines and little stories are both touching and powerful. Yet it is his deep expressive blue eyes that you remember the most. At any given time they can convey both his personal strength and sensitivity. Sissy Spacek is also terrific. Her portrayal of his mentally handicapped daughter is so convincing that you really can’t see the acting.

This is an emotional film and one that makes the viewer feel good without being manipulative or using any of the old conventions. The simplicity is refreshing. The only minor drawback is the meeting with his brother. Talented actor Harry Dean Stanton plays his brother yet he is only given a few lines. You wish he had more and we were able to see a more complete relationship. Even so this is still a wonderful movie.

My Rating: 9 out of 10

Released: September 3, 1999

Runtime: 1Hour 52Minutes

Rated G

Director: David Lynch

Studio: Buena Vista Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD

2 responses to “The Straight Story (1999)

  1. An incredible film but one you have to be patient with as it’s slow moving. Cinematography is gorgeous. Btw, Farnsworth was literally dying from Stage 4 cancer when he acted in this which is just beyond poignant.

  2. Joseph Kearny

    Minor rewards here.

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