The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child.
A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.
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"The Straight Story" chronicles a trip made by 73-year-old Alvin Straight from Laurens, Iowa, to Mt. Zion, Wis., in 1994 while riding a lawn mower. The man undertook his strange journey to mend his relationship with his ill, estranged, 75-year-old brother Lyle. Written by
Richard Farnsworth was going to turn down the film because he didn't like the language in Blue Velvet (1986). Only several personal assurances by David Lynch and the other writers that the film would contain no cursing did he agree to do it. See more »
Early in the film it was established that it is "harvest time". As Alvin is on his journey a slew of bicyclists pass him and later he motors into their camp. The only explanation for this event would be RAGBRAI, which happens in mid-late July. See more »
Whenever I hear a movie being touted because it has no sex, violence, bad language, special effects, and so on, my b.s. detector goes off. Usually, a movie like that is sentimental hogwash which panders to people who don't want anything to surprise them, but to affirm how superior they are to us craven folk. So when David Lynch's THE STRAIGHT STORY began getting those kinds of reviews, I was apprehensive, especially since I was not a fan of his other "uplifting" story, THE ELEPHANT MAN. For all the stunning images and the good acting in that film, it seemed more interested in preaching to us than inspiring us.
I needn't have worried. THE STRAIGHT STORY is an honest movie rather than a saccharine one. Most of that is due to the fact that Lynch and writers John Roach and Mary Sweeney tell it straight and simple for the most part. There are a couple of homilies by Straight I could have done without, and the shots of grain being harvested are repeated a little too much, but those are only quibbles. There's no heavy-handed message, no sentimental strings to jerk our emotions, and no condescension towards us and its characters. Instead, they depend on the story to build its own power, and it does, so by the final scene, we are genuinely moved.
Of course, casting Richard Farnsworth adds realism to the part. He really is someone who looks like he's lived through a lot but still perseveres, and except for those homilies, the desire he has to get back together with his brother doesn't seem overly sentimental, because you can sense here is someone who's lived too long and seen too much to be driven by anger for long. And he knows his time is running out, so he wants to make some peace, not only with his brother, but with his life. Sissy Spacek also does fine, unmannered work as Straight's daughter. And although I am a city and suburban boy, the Iowa and Wisconsin landscape are beautifully shot, making me want at least to visit some day.
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