Directed by David Lynch. USA. 1999.

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Alvin Straight is a seventy-three-year-old man who, upon hearing that his brother has suffered a stroke, feels the need to visit and make peace with his estranged sibling who lives three hundred and seventy miles away.  Alvin can no longer see well enough to drive and he doesn’t like to travel by bus, so he decides to journey all that way on a little tractor-mower.

During the long haul, Alvin meets various people who either help him on his way or benefit from the wisdom of this smart old-timer.  Alvin’s journey explores life and many of its facets: the strength and magnetism of family, the horror of war, the persistence of the human spirit and the milk of human kindness.

This is a slow-moving film set in slow-moving country, but the steady pace has a calming effect rather than a frustrating one.  The great outdoors of America is shown in all its vast, rural beauty.

David Lynch displays great restraint as a director by letting the scenes, locations and characters do the storytelling in their own time.

Richard Farnsworth plays the part of Alvin Straight faultlessly and utterly convincingly.  Sissy Spacek’s performance as Alvin’s daughter is also above reproach. 

The Straight Story is an enchanting and thoroughly enjoyable film.

Alistair Pope
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