David Lynch's first foray into the land of Disney and G-ratings is a surprisingly gentle, hopeful, and irony-free crowd pleaser. The film tells the true story of Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), a 73-year-old man who journeys from Laurens, Iowa, to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin, on a John Deere lawn mower in order to visit his dying older brother, Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton). The estranged brothers haven't spoken in years because of their stubborn pride, but Lyle's recent stroke convinces Alvin that now is the time to make amends. Along the way he meets a host of interesting characters--including a pregnant runaway teenager, a sad World War II veteran, and a sympathetic priest--affecting them deeply with his unflinching spirit and belief in the power of familial love. As Straight, Farnsworth slips into the role he was born to play with an effortless grace. Sissy Spacek gives a heartbreaking turn as his afflicted daughter, Rose, who looks after her father and mourns for her children, who were cruelly taken away from her after a freak fire threatened their well-being. Angelo Badalamenti's acoustic, string-heavy score, coupled with 81-year-old Freddie Francis's golden cinematography, adds an even deeper grace to Lynch's touching family drama.
Main Cast & Crew:
David Lynch - Director
Barbara E. Robertson
Harry Dean Stanton
- Format: DVD
- Run Time: 111
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 717951010117
- Genre: Drama
- Rating: G (MPAA)
- Release Date: May 2000
David Lynch does a 180-degree turn and comes up with a beautiful family film that preaches the power of love and forgiveness. Based on a true story, THE STRAIGHT STORY follows Alvin Straight, a stubborn 73-year-old Iowa man who learns that his brother has just suffered a stroke. Although the brothers haven't spoken in years, Alvin decides to travel to Wisconsin to reunite with him. Armed with a cooler of hot dogs and a U-Haul trailer, Alvin climbs aboard a John Deere lawn mower and begins his inspiring journey.
Theatrical release: October 15, 1999. David Lynch shot the film on location throughout the Midwest, primarily in Iowa, in chronological order of the story. Richard Farnsworth committed suicide in October 2000. The actor and former stuntman had apparently struggled with terminal cancer for a long period of time and decided to end his own suffering. Farnsworth appeared in more than 50 films during his long career and received Academy Award nominations for 1978's COMES A HORSEMAN and THE STRAIGHT STORY, which was his final film. In keeping with the film's theme, Lynch recruited 81-year-old cinematographer Freddie Francis (THE ELEPHANT MAN) to shoot the picture. Lynch acknowledged that the film is a departure from his darkly strange films such as BLUE VELVET and LOST HIGHWAY. In a press release for the movie he commented, "THE STRAIGHT STORY is an unusual film for me. But I was so moved by the screenplay that, soon enough, I found myself in Iowa." The British Independent Film Awards 2000 named THE STRAIGHT STORY the Best Foreign Independent Film, English Language.
Ranked #8 in Rolling Stone's "Ten Best Movies of 1999" -- "...[THE STRAIGHT STORY] rides to glory..." - 01/20/2000 Rolling Stone, p.63-4
"...Lynch takes us on a journey of shattering understatement - a remarkable accomplishment..." - 10/28/1999 Rolling Stone, p. 114
"...Not a single kink....There's lot to admire about the film..." - 12/??/1999 Sight and Sound, p.57-8
"...A gentle dirge to lost youth and lost time..." -- 4 out of 5 stars - 06/01/2000 Premiere, p.102
"...STRAIGHT STORY combines humor with deep feeling for a unique and remarkable film journey..." -- 4 out of 5 stars - 09/01/1999 Box Office, p.146
"...Lynch finds a way to get visual mileage out of virtually every scene....The filmmaker's instincts have never been sharper..." - 10/15/1999 USA Today, p.1E
"...Farnsworth is exactly right as a stubborn old-timer....His dignified yet irascible presence is characterized by complete and effortless integrity..." - 10/15/1999 Los Angeles Times, p.C18
"...Like Hemingway's dialogue, the screenplay by John Roach and Mary Sweeney finds poetry and truth in the exact choice of the right everyday words....[Farnsworth] speaks the lines with perfect repose and conviction..." - 10/15/1999 Chicago Sun-Times, p.33
"...A surprisingly heartwarming tale of family, friendship and basic human decency..." - 08/01/2000 Total Film, p.106
5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he years have not lessened the beautiful simplicity of this inspiring little joy....It's Farnsworth's show, his lined face a veritable emotional map." - 06/01/2008 Empire, p.155