73-year-old Alvin Straight, (Richard Farnsworth), lives with his daughter, Sissy Spacek, in the small town of Laurens, Iowa, in the heart of America's corn belt. Alvin has a bad hip and poor eyesight, but when he hears his older brother, Lyle, who lives 300 miles away in Mt. Zion, Wisconsin, has had a stroke, he's determined to visit him and end the feud between them. He's not allowed to drive, so he does the next best thing - he travels by lawnmower. At first sight, this is a radical departure for director David Lynch - where is the creepiness, the menace of Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and Lost Highway? But, as the indefatigable Alvin travels at a snails-pace through Middle America, in what must be the slowest road movie ever made, Lynchian elements appear: the characters we meet in these small towns and villages and on the road all exhibit a dark side - not everything is apple pie. Richard Farnsworth is quite wonderful as Alvin, but the equal star of the film is 80-year-old cinematographer Freddie Francis, whose Scope photography is one of the film's major pleasures. It's a gem of a movie, one that richly rewards the patience of the audience.
Margaret's Comments:This is a most un-Lynchian film in which humanity is seen through rose-coloured glasses. Sam Straight, the man who is determined to drive his lawn-mower to Wisconsin to visit his sick brother doesn't meet a bad 'un on the way, it is a most beautiful journey. And as seen through the eyes of veteran cinematographer Freddie Francis it is glorious to look at as well. There is no underbelly of cynicism here, this is a story - co-written, co-produced and edited by Lynch's partner Mary Sweeney -of total nourishment. It's a near perfect piece in terms of its simplicity, its clarity of purpose and the truth of each performance. It's only the niggling thought that it's maybe a touch too rose-coloured that stops me giving it a 5-star rating.
Watch 'The Straight Story'
Saturday 20 November, 4:10pm on SBS World Movies (Streaming after at SBS On Demand)
Sunday 21 November, 11:45am on SBS World Movies
Director: David Lynch
Starring: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Harry Dean Stanton