HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool
Piano, The
Deadly Games
King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen
Porky's II: The Next Day
It Happened Here
Giant from the Unknown
211
Top of the Bill
Set It Off
No Way Out
Traffik
Pitch Perfect 3
Insidious: The Last Key
Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, The
Dirty Carnival, A
King of Hearts
Crowhurst
And the Same to You
Racer and the Jailbird
Superman and the Mole-Men
Phantom Thread
Sweet Country
Loophole
Irma La Douce
Brigsby Bear
Wish Upon
Gringo
Finding Vivian Maier
Shape of Water, The
   
 
Newest Articles
ITC What You Did There: Retro-Action on Blu-ray
And It Was the Dirtiest Harry We Have Seen in a Very Long Time: The Dirty Harry Series
Manor On Movies: The Astounding She Monster
Manor On Movies: Don't be a dolt. That's not a cult (movie)
Wes Anderson's Big Daddies: Steve Zissou and Others
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
   
 
  Straight Story, The The Lawnmower ManBuy this film here.
Year: 1999
Director: David Lynch
Stars: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Everett McGill, Jane Galloway Heitz, Joseph A. Carpenter, Donald Wiegert, Dan Flannery, Anastasia Webb, Bill McCallum, Barbara E. Robertson, James Cada, Wiley Harker, Kevin P. Farley, John Farley, Harry Dean Stanton
Genre: Biopic
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) has suffered a setback. An elderly man in his seventies, his health is beginning to fail after decades of smoking and a drinking problem he managed to put behind him, but simple wear and tear on his ageing frame is taking its toll, and after a fall at home where he could not get up again, his doctor warns him in no uncertain terms that he will have to change his ways or risk an impending death. But he feels he has too many years on him to change now, so rejects the doctor's advice, though knowing the clock is ticking brings his experiences into sharper relief. None sharper than the relationship he has with his brother Lyle, whom he has not spoken to in ten years...

This was based on a true story of Mr Straight who made the headlines across the world by travelling to see his brother, who was also ailing, on a lawnmower. Not like a hover mower or something you have to push, but one you sat on and drove, all thanks to him not having a driver's licence so he did not own a car to take him the few hundred miles from Wisconsin to Ohio that he needed to make amends with his sibling. You could regard this as a note of caution about realising your time on this Earth was finite, and leaving loose ends that could easily have been remedied with a heart to heart, or even a gesture to acknowledge that things were said, but nothing that could never be taken back, was not the best way to take your final bow.

The entire journey Alvin embarks on here is a metaphor for his seventy-six years, condensed into a couple of months that he spent on the road, with each person he meets representing something that happened to him which was of significance. It seems each of them reminds him of a passage of time in his long life, with the teenage runaway reminding him of his wife and the children she bore him, or the equally elderly gent he meets when the transport breaks down who he reminisces with about their harrowing Second World War, the first time we can tell he has done so in a very long time. Sissy Spacek played Rose, his daughter who still lives with him since she has mental difficulties, and has now started to turn carer for the old man.

He has to leave her behind for his trip, but there was a sense these simple folk were not being patronised, rather that director David Lynch was revelling in the places and atmosphere where he grew up, with their hopes and fears and even their humour, but above all their uncomplicated generosity: this was a film that had great faith in human nature. You could argue that some of the most moving scenes in his canon shared that belief that people were essentially decent, and if they were not there was nothing about them that the decent folks would ever be fundamentally corrupted by, but The Straight Story was a movie without any real villains, it was a matter of reconciliation as the characters could be their own worst enemies, as we see most patently in Alvin, who is not wholly endorsed in his endeavours.

Plenty of others tell him he is simply being foolish in pursuing this, and we can well understand why, especially when he nearly suffers an accident or winds up stranded with nobody around to rescue him. Yet if Alvin was not a sensible man but a stubborn one, we can also see that this act he is undertaking is a method of proving his need to be forgiven by his brother, a form of penance no matter that he quite enjoys being out on the road, but for a man in his condition, needing two canes to walk, his lungs giving up and his eyesight failing, it's not exactly a walk in the park either (or a lawnmower ride in the park, if you prefer). In its quiet manner, with its glowing Freddie Francis photography this looked back to those great road movies of the seventies which supplanted the Western in some ways, though while those worried that the traditional American values were either waning away or hardly existed in the first place, Lynch sought to reassure us that basic goodness survived, and you would find it should you take on an excursion that did not need to be as Herculean as Alvin's. The final sequence was genuinely moving. Music by Angelo Badalamenti.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 499 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

David Lynch  (1946 - )

One-of-a-kind American writer-director and artist. His low budget debut Eraserhead set the trends for his work: surreal, unnerving but with a unique sense of humour. After Mel Brooks offered him The Elephant Man, Dino De Laurentiis gave Lynch Dune to direct, but it was an unhappy experience for him.

Luckily, despite the failure of Dune, De Laurentiis was prepared to produce Lynch's script for Blue Velvet, which has since become regarded as a classic. He moved into television with Twin Peaks and On the Air, but it was with film that he was most comfortable: Cannes winner Wild at Heart, prequel/sequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, plot-twisting Lost Highway, the out of character but sweet-natured The Straight Story, the mysterious Mulholland Drive and the rambling, willfully obscure Inland Empire. His return to directing after a long gap with the revival of Twin Peaks on television was regarded as a triumph.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
George White
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Stately Wayne Manor
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
   

 

Last Updated: