Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Straight Story

Movie Name: The Straight Story
Year of Release: 1999
Director: David Lynch
Stars: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Harry Dean Stanton, Everett McGill, Jane Galloway Heitz, Joseph Carpenter, Donald Wiegert, Ed Grennan, Jack Walsh, James Cada
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 9
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis & Review:
After "Lost Highway", director David Lynch tackled a decidedly different story and a very different tone for what became "The Straight Story". The film is based on a true story, and focuses on Alvin Straight's odyssey in 1994, of going to visit his brother Lyle, from Iowa to Wisconsin on a lawn mower. Alvin is a War veteran who lives with his daughter Rose, who has a mental disability. When he hears that his brother Lyle has suffered a stroke, Alvin decides to go for a visit. Since he can't drive anymore, he decides to hitch a trailer to his lawn tractor, and sets off on the 240 mile journey from Iowa to Wisconsin.
David Lynch has one of the most distinct voices in cinema, mostly because as an artist, he places on screen exactly the way he envisions the universe that surrounds him. Some of his films have been considered surreal and overly abstract, but there's definitely a common thread throughout his career: his films try to depict the different layers that exist to reality, and sometimes that reality is populated with exaggerated characters or what we traditionally consider eccentrics, but that's nonetheless his interpretations of what he sees surrounding him (and what is fed to him in terms of influences, through other films, music, art). "The Straight Story", much like "The Elephant Man", may feel like one of the most direct and accessible films he's directed, but it falls under his cannon of representing the oddities of life and of people, as part of what makes all these layers so strange and interesting. The film has his unique point of view, and has a heart, something that is embodied perfectly by Richard Farnsworth (in what turned out to be his last performance) and also by the always terrific Sissy Spacek, who embodies kindness perfectly with her subdued performance. The cinematography from Freddie Francis is beautiful (in what turned out to be his last film also). A great film from a fantastic director.