|Submitted by Darren DeBari |
(Dec 14, 2005)
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.