The first take on The Straight Story took my breath away, and I couldn't get it back until a few hours after the movie ending.
There's so much beauty in it, conveyed by details presented in a careful production. Everything here is outstanding: cinematography, acting, soundtrack. There's no need for words in order to understand Alvin Straight's journey, one that he undertakes in his own pace, despite what others tell him would be the best. But even if the silence tells a lot here, the few dialogues between Alvin and people he meets while crossing two states in a lawn mower present a world in itself.
There are, by the way, many contrasts in here to tell the true story of a man that travels by lawn mower to see his estranged ill brother. Open shots of vast fields and close-ups on the characters. Big spaces and small houses. A hurt carried through a lifetime and the everyday pain. Each detail is staged in a way that holds our hearts hostages since the first moment. At each scene, I was more and more mesmerized.
This is a movie for life.
Richard Farnsworth conveys so much with his quiet and troubled Alvin. Sissy Spacek we want to hold near, her Rose is so caring that we immediately cared for her. The surprising (for me) cameo at the last scene goes beyond its few minutes on screen. This movie is so much, there's no fair way to describe it and the people in it. A storytelling in all its wonders. And if like me you've been taking too long to see it, don't postpone it anymore. A world of beauty, human connections, loss, atonement, pain, unfairness, love waits for you in this 1999 David Lynch's film.
Just before the vast farming scenes take hold of me in the first take, I was surprised to see the Disney logo associated to a David Lynch's movie. Some weird circumstances like a Disney executive bet that Lynch wouldn't be able to tell a story with a tender and delicate way. Bets done, everyone's a winner. Because a filmmaker that has such a strong voice and a attentive eye to life is for sure a suited narrator to Alvin Straight's story of what means to maintain his own pace in a faster world while he makes amends with himself and the people that matters to him.
|The Straight Story. Directed by David Lynch. With: Richard Farnsworth,|
Sissy Spacek, Jane Galloway Heitz. Writers: John Roach, Mary Sweeney.
France/UK/US, 1999, 112 min., Dolby Digital, Color (DVD).
PS: Nebraska, the 2013 movie by Alexander Payne, has a lot of The Straight Story. The open shots, the careful picture of people, a beautiful soundtrack that links images and story. The main tone in both are different, but it is difficult not to relate those two movies in the personal journey undertaken by two complex characters.
PPS: Richard Farnsworth had undergone a hip surgery at the time of this movie's production, and had a hard time moving around, the same as his characters. After the movie release, he shot himself in his ranch, at 80 years old. At the same year, he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. A heartbreaking outcome for a great performer.