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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.43%
Average: 2.86%
Pretty Bad: 11.43%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 40 user ratings

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Straight Story, The
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Just 'cause Lynch went 'G' doesn't mean this isn't to see"
5 stars

It makes no difference that David Lynch happens to be my personal favorite filmmaker, but "The Straight Story" is easily one of the year's very best films, with a nice comfortable spot at the top of my "ten best" list. "The Straight Story" is an emotional journey, fulfilling and touching, that put a broad smile on my face and kept it there, from the start of the film to the end.

"The Straight Story" is that of Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), a 73-year-old man who resides in Laurens, Iowa with his autistic daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek). Alvin receives a phone call notifying him that his brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) has had a stroke; Alvin and Lyle, now estranged after a fight ten years ago, haven't spoken since. Now it's up to Alvin to swallow his pride and try to make amends with his brother before it's too late.

With no driver's license due to bad eyesight, yet too dogmatic to accept a ride, and with bad hips (he uses two canes to walk, being too stubborn to use a walker), Alvin constructs a mini-trailer and attaches it to his small John Deere tractor/lawnmower. He travels 370 miles to Mount Zion, Wisconsin, meeting a various assortment of characters along the way, including a runaway teen, a belligerent driver who's hit 13 deer in the last week, and a fellow World War II veteran. With each acquaintance, Alvin serves as a "knowledge dispenser," giving them smart advice (but not preaching) on solving their troubles. Though his poor eyesight makes it difficult for him to actually see them, he has the ability to easily see their problems.

Many Lynch fans may be surprised by the odd-auteur's choice to direct a "G" rated film. I don't think they will be disappointed, though -- Lynch's style is still very apparent and evident, and it's carefully treated, as in any other film he's directed. Best described by writer/producer Mary Sweeney, "The Straight Story" is like a "four-mile an hour road trip." There are no big explosions (though he does shoot an old lawnmower), bar room brawls, sadistic oxygen-yielding fiends, or freaky mystery men with white painted faces; this film is a good 'ol slice of Americana portrayed with a lot of heart.

Farnsworth is an ultimately seasoned actor; for someone as old as he, he was so full of life! It was glorious just to be able to read into the wrinkles of his face, each telling a story. Farnsworth easily has a shot for Best Actor, and I fully believe he deserves it. Sissy Spacek has an unbelievably special role as well, and has a good chance at a supporting actress bid due to her poignant portrayal. The more you eventually learn about her character, the more touching her story is. Although his time on screen is very minimal and without much dialogue, the film wouldn't have been complete without Harry Dean Stanton. He brings his own charm just being on screen; the other supporting actors, although most were unknowns, were carefully selected to maximize each tidbit. Two of the very best were Anastasia Webb, a runaway teen (the stick scene is very touching), and Wiley Harker as the WWII vet who shares something of a troubling past with Alvin. Surprisingly, the film was filled with a nice helping of humor.

As promised with any Lynch film, "The Straight Story" is very technically adept, including everything from the cinematography (excellently done by 80-year-old Freddie Francis) to editing and production design.

David Lynch has brought us a cleansing and wholesome film, which may be the best picture you'll see all year. Although it might not seem possible, like "The Elephant Man," it is very capable of bringing tears to your eyes. Lynch has rarely been better.

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originally posted: 11/01/99 07:05:06
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User Comments

4/03/09 Dane Youssef David Lynch moves us, touches us and does something that few directors have been able to. 5 stars
4/08/08 David Hollands It gets the tears flowing every time. One of the most beautiful films ever made. 5 stars
3/21/08 docmoreau It and "The Fastest American Indian" get my votes for best septuagenarian yarns 4 stars
5/29/07 glo- yes, simple, beautiful, more of this please! 5 stars
3/05/07 Cynthia this movie heals many emotions 5 stars
12/31/06 mr.mike pretty dull , specially for DL 3 stars
10/27/06 Isaac Baranoff Another departure from Lynch's usual style. Still great. 5 stars
6/25/04 Daveman An adorable film. Lynch is almost as good at being upbeat as he is at being sinister. 4 stars
6/05/04 MyGreenBed The first 15 minutes are interesting, but...damn, what a snorefest after that. Overrated. 2 stars
4/28/04 The More You Know Treasure this touching reunion with a loved one...quite extraordinary! 5 stars
3/25/04 Lord Haw Haw A journey across the human heart, bridging the gulf between estranged brothers. Exquisite. 5 stars
12/06/03 john a beautifully patient, involving, honest and ultimately triumphant film - amazing 5 stars
8/02/03 DM Good flick- not as good as I thought it'd be, but moving nonetheless 4 stars
7/12/03 Alice What a disapointment 2 stars
4/11/03 Jack Bourbon Even Jack Bourbon was a little misty after this one. Lynch did this??? He should do more. 5 stars
1/01/03 Jack Sommersby A true original. Beautiful and breathtakingly executed. Farnsworth is a treasure. 5 stars
11/27/02 Zack W. Young Beautful and spell-binding; possibly the only Lynch piece worth watching for normals. 5 stars
10/21/02 TheBomb69 I cried, heartbreaking stuff! 5 stars
5/31/02 Phil M. Aficionado As you become older you learn to sift the wheat from the chaff. Thanks for the wheat. 5 stars
5/19/02 john waite a perfect performance by richard farnsworth..beautiful! 5 stars
9/30/01 daniboy beautiful, beautiful movie 5 stars
8/01/01 Elendil A unique story. Some parts are a tad cliche. 3 stars
5/22/01 R.W. Welch An intentionally "little" movie but carried off with real aplomb. 4 stars
3/07/01 Mike I still cry when I watch it! 5 stars
10/08/00 Keith Condit There is nothing wrong with this movie...unless you are a special effects or action freak ! 4 stars
8/04/00 Viking David Lynch's compassionate side 4 stars
7/09/00 Narf Slow to develop, but a great low-key payoff ending. Richard Farnsworth rocks. 4 stars
7/08/00 Gluke So Good! 5 stars
6/08/00 Monday Morning Outstanding "touch" by Lynch. Says so much, so quietly. 5 stars
5/28/00 Belinda I was totally absorbed. 5 stars
5/19/00 The Hunter good 5 stars
1/30/00 Adam This is a Lynch movie? 4 stars
12/07/99 Ralf Behet Pure cinematic poetry. Farnsworth delivers a superlative performance. One of Lynch's best. 5 stars
11/18/99 The Furtive Ventriliquist Lynch keeps on gettin' better! 5 stars
11/17/99 Krasker Wonderful. Beautiful and poetic and life-affirming. 5 stars
11/14/99 MANGAN C. Loved it! 5 stars
11/09/99 Heather Simple, beautiful, funny, moving, David Lynch takes a gamble and pulls it off 5 stars
11/09/99 Kirsten I hope I am never too cynical to appreciate something so beautiful in its simplicity. 5 stars
10/16/99 Mr Showbiz David Lynch get sback to basics with a simpe story of human dignity. 4 stars
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Directed by
  David Lynch

Written by
  John Roach
  Mary Sweeney

  Harry Dean Stanton

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