The Straight Story

The Straight Story (1999) was a thoughtful and well-constructed film about a man and his cross-country journey on a lawnmower.

David Lynch directed it, but didn’t write it, so the things which I don’t always appreciate the lack of in Lynch’s films, like a coherent plot, linear continuity of time, and so on, were present. And yet there were some of the things I love in Lynch films: long pauses between lines in dialogue, some scenes dominated by ambient sounds, and moreover, just plain weirdness.

The subject of the film could be said to be redemption and/or mortality. I’m not going to go into the details of the plot; suffice to say I found it quite effective. The runtime was a bit long, but when Lynch directs, that just comes with the territory.

A minor character, seen most prominently in one short scene which I’ve embedded below, reminded me much of a former co-worker at a gas station. (I’m referring to Sig, the man in the green hat and overalls in the scene.) Aside from that, this scene is a good example of the dialogue pacing in this movie. Also I think it’s hilarious.

It’s interesting to note that Richard Farnsworth, who portrayed the main character of the film (Alvin Straight), was working through terminal bone cancer during filming. In other words, he probably worked much, much harder than anyone else in the film. Sadly, he shot and killed himself about a year after the film’s release.

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