The Straight Story

on October 15, 1999 by Ed Scheid
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   While "The Straight Story" contains the eccentric characters and unusual behavior for which director David Lynch is known, the film also has an emotional sensitivity missing from recent Lynch efforts like "Twin Peaks-Fire Walk With Me" and "Lost Highway."
   Set in 1994, Lynch's film is based on true events. Seventy-three-year-old Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) lives with his daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek) in a small town in rural Iowa. After a particularly rough fall, Alvin is forced to use two canes for walking. When Alvin hears that his estranged brother Lyle whom he hasn't seen in 10 years has had a stroke, Alvin is determined to visit him for a reunion.
   Lyle lives several hundred miles away in Wisconsin, and without a driver's license because of his vision problems, Alvin decides to make the trip driving a riding mower hauling a trailer carrying wieners, gasoline and other supplies. To the amazement of his daughter and neighbors, Alvin sets off. The mower proceeds at a slow pace, passed by bicycles. Along the way, Alvin encounters a teenage runaway, bickering twin mechanics and a woman whose car has become a dangerous weapon. The magnitude of the trip is emphasized by Lynch's overhead shots showing Alvin and his trailer dwarfed by the land.
   Stuntman-turned-actor Farnsworth ("Misery") creates a memorable characterization; with his weather-beaten face, he conveys Alvin's self-knowledge of his physical limitations but also his feistiness to continue on his journey, regardless of any setback.
   Shot in a more straightforward style than previous Lynch efforts, "Straight Story" combines humor with deep feeling for a unique and remarkable film journey. Starring Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek and Harry Dean Stanton. Directed by David Lynch. Written by John Roach and Mary Sweeney. Produced by Alain Sarde, Mary Sweeney and Neal Edelstein. A Buena Vista release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 111 min
Tags: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, John Roach, Mary Sweeney, Alain Sarde, Neal Edelstein, A Buena Vista release, Drama, dangerous, physical, self-knowledge, journey
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