The Straight Story

Could the name above the title of this heartfelt, unabashedly sentimental family drama really be David Lynch? The man whose seminal BLUE VELVET introduced sadomasochism to the cineplex and whose TV serial Twin Peaks brought incest and teenage prostitution rings right into our living rooms? Oddly enough, this uncharacteristic offering from a director whose...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Could the name above the title of this heartfelt, unabashedly sentimental family drama really be David Lynch? The man whose seminal BLUE VELVET introduced sadomasochism to the cineplex and whose TV serial Twin Peaks brought incest and teenage prostitution

rings right into our living rooms? Oddly enough, this uncharacteristic offering from a director whose name instantly evokes a very particular kind of film — call it postmodern American gothic — is also one of his best. It's based on the true story of Alvin Straight, a 73-year-old widower

who, in 1994, traveled 240 miles from his home in Larens, IA, to reconcile with his ailing brother in Blue River, WI. On a lawnmower. Denied a driver's license because of poor eyesight, Straight rigged up his 1966 John Deere lawn tractor with a homemade trailer and hit the road for a six-week,

five mile per hour odyssey. With a few minor changes (mostly place and character names), Lynch turns Straight's odd trek into a warm meditation on growing old, embracing both the wisdom life experience brings you and the sadness of remembering that your failing body was once young. Central to the

film's gentle strength is Richard Farnsworth as Alvin — stubborn but grounded in a quiet, salt-of-the-Earth dignity — and Sissy Spacek as Straight's daughter Rose, who builds birdhouses and harbors a sadness of her own. So much of the film resembles Lynch's earlier work (the opening

scene could have been an alternate take from BLUE VELVET) that it's hard not to marvel at the complete lack of menacing irony. People are still pretty weird, but there's no pestilence festering under the green lawns of Laurens, and while foreboding grain elevators hum with an unearthly, low-end

frequency, it's only because it's harvest time. And the highway? Here, those double-yellow lines no longer lead into darkness and a dangerous future, but to family and a reconciliation with the past.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: G
  • Review: Could the name above the title of this heartfelt, unabashedly sentimental family drama really be David Lynch? The man whose seminal BLUE VELVET introduced sadomasochism to the cineplex and whose TV serial Twin Peaks brought incest and teenage prostitution… (more)

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