Monday, March 31, 2008

The Straight Story - Movie Review

I don't even remember how I heard of this movie. I'm pretty sure it must have come up in my Netflix recommendation list, but I wouldn't swear to that. Regardless, this movie has stuck with me all last night and most of today. I keep thinking of it, which means it must have been a good movie.
The movie is called "The Straight Story" (imdb). It is based on a TRUE story which just blows my mind. Not to give too much away, as the story is a fairly simple one... A man, Alvin Straight in his 70's (73?) learns that his brother has taken ill. So he decides to visit him... problem is, he has bad hips, poor eyesight, and due to this he does not have a driver's license. So what does he do? He builds himself a trailer, and hooks it up to a 30 year old riding mower, and proceeds to drive approx 240 MILES to see his brother!
The acting was terrific by Richard Farnsworth (imdb), who I learned today, that there is more to this story that is unsettling. I won't post the events about which I'm hinting to in case you want to watch this movie. I think It might ruin the movie if you knew about Richard beforehand. IF you think you won't be watching the movie, then click here to go to the wikipedia page about this movie and scroll down to read about Richard. It's a sad tale.
Back to the movie...
I did have a few complaints... although I'm sure it was intentional, but the film moved at a slow pace. Like I said, I'm sure this was an intentional edit on the parts of David Lynch, to really exagerate the fact that Alvin was moving along so slowly. There were a few scenes, that again bothered me for some reason, where David, chose to shoot from a distance away from the actors... So you can't hear the audio. At first, I thought there was something wrong with the audio on the DVD, but then I realized it was intentional. It bothered me because I felt like I was missing part of the conversation.
There was one line that really stood out for me...
Alvin had been making his way across Iowa towards Wisconsin, and had been pulling off the side of the road to camp in the farmer's fields. When he explained this to one woman asking about the trip, she said "But aren't you afraid out there in those fields all by yourself? There are a lot of crazy people in this world." To which Alvin replied "I fought in the trenches of war world 2, I don't think I need to be afraid of some farmers field in Iowa."
What also made this film strange, was that it was an odd mix of cast and crew. David Lynch is known for other works a little more... disturbing shall we say. Films like; lost highway, Mullholland Drive, Twin Peaks (tv show), and Blue Velvet, to name a few. Yet this movie was a real departure from those. In addition it was a "G" rating, and it was produced by Disney! Disney and Lynch, just don't go together in my mind.
My only other complaint... The movie didn't go into any details that I think were important. It wasn't until I looked it up on the web, that I learned some interesting facts like, it was 240 miles. The average speed was 5 miles per hour, the trip took him about 6 weeks! and then what happened when the two brothers met? I know, the movie was supposed to be about the journey but still.
All in all, a strange film, that probably only a handful of other people have seen. It's not really a pick-me-up film either. But it's a film and character that will probably stick with me now, and I have nothing but admiration for the stubbornness of this ol' codger (I mean that in a nice way). It may not have been the smartest thing to do, but he made up his mind and stuck to it.
Check it out if you get the chance.

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