This weeks film is one that I had no previous knowledge of (which is surprising for someone such as me) and therefore it was one of the rare occasions that I could enjoy the film without any expectations. Straight Story is the only feature film which David Lynch directed and did not receive a writers credit; it is also based upon a true story which is a nice thought.

 

THE PLOT

Alvin Strait (Richard Farnsworth) is an old man, barely able to walk and battling several illnesses. However when he discovers his brother with whom he hasn’t spoken for some time has suffered a stroke, he takes his lawnmower and sets on a road trip in which he encounters a range of people.

 

THE GOOD

The story of the film is a very touching one as most road trips movies tend to be. As the old man travels we discover more about him and learn to truly empathise with what he is going through.

The film is exquisitely written with each line of dialogue having clear meaning however it is from the visual side that the story is truly told. The film was apparently shot in sequence which will explain the use of so many long, exquisitely framed takes. There are long periods in which there is no dialogue; however that is not important as the performances and framing tell us so much more about what is happening. There are several shots of the countryside that are truly beautiful.

Screen shot 2013-08-01 at 01.12.13

The performance of Richard Farnsworth is astounding and I was surprised to see that he didn’t win an Oscar for the performance until I saw that he was against Kevin Spacey’s career best in American Beauty. The stubbornness of Farnsworth’s character to not back down and preservere through all the troubles he encounters is the backbone of the film and makes it an enthralling watch.

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THE BAD

Ok, I really enjoyed this film as a piece of cinema; however I did find myself disappointed because it did not feel anything like a David Lynch film. There was nothing strange about the narrative; the characters generally seemed fairly normal (albeit some of the acting a little over the top) and there wasn’t even a dream sequence!

The film is also by no means fun to watch, it is a hard film to pay attention too as there are many lengthy driving sequences that seem to stretch out endlessly; however it is also captivating by nature and drew me in so that although at times it felt slow, it was never difficult as each scene linked together well and everything seemed purposeful.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So this is a difficult film to rate because it is a great film which I would strongly recommend as an storytelling in a visual sense, but I think that the lack of oddness in story and character means that I cannot give this a high rating on the Lynch scale. Therefore I award Straight Story a begrudgingly meagre 3 Lynch’s.

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