Straight Story1999

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Richard Farnsworth, Donald Wiegert, Tracey Maloney, Dan Flannery
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rating: G (General Audience)
Runtime: 112 minutes

Throughout The Straight Story, 73-year-old Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) gazes calmly at the night sky, as if the stars were reflections of his own memories. Alvin's eyesight is bad and his daughter (Sissy Spacek) is slightly retarded and unable to drive, so he's traveling from Laurens, Iowa to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin on a riding John Deere lawn mower. It's slow going, so there's plenty of time to stop for the night and ponder the cosmos. Alvin's journeying to visit his ailing brother; they haven't spoken in years, and it's time to make peace. Along the way, he befriends a variety of nice folks, and you have to ask yourself... Is this really a David Lynch movie? It's a miracle that this G-rated Disney film was made by a director whose work is often described as twisted and bizarre. But Lynch is too complex an artist to be labeled, and he brings charm, grace, and kindness to his fact-based telling of The Straight Story--not to mention a serenity rarely found in movies anymore. It's a film of moments--funny, odd, quietly spiritual--and this simple tale of a man, a lawnmower, and rural hospitality becomes a genuine Lynchian odyssey, unlike any film you've seen but as welcoming as a cup of lemon tea with honey. Best of all, it's a fitting tribute to the career of veteran stuntman-actor Farnsworth who, at age 79, plays Alvin Straight to sheer perfection, his face a subtle roadmap to a broad spectrum of emotional destinations. --Jeff Shannon

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