In 1994 Alvin Straight made a journey across Iowa and Wisconsin on a lawn mower to see his brother.
5 years later David Lynch made a movie about it, and somehow in 24 years I had never seen it. Now with The Straight Story getting a Bluray release I can say I was missing out.
Alvin Straight was a 73 year old army vet who is living with his daughter in Iowa. He is I’m pretty poor health and so doesn’t have a drivers licence, but this isn’t an issue for his day to day life. One day he gets a call that his brother had a stroke. Having not spoken to him in a really long time, and not liking public transport he only has one option left, his ride on lawnmower.
It’s a premise that sounds like it might be a comedy or could be a bit silly, instead it winds up being a fascinating chill character story.
We get the initial slice of Alvin’s life, followed by his need to upgrade his mower, to his journey. The journey itself switches between short moments of him chilling on his slow mower as he observes the world and people passing him by, to moments he encounters on the way; like a woman hitting a deer, cyclists passing him and cheering as he reaches their camp, through to his mower breaking down and him spending some time camping at a nice families house while it’s repaired.
We discover that Alvin is a really nice man, and learn slices of his story as he speaks to these different strangers that ask about different aspects of his life. The real strength to the story is the conversations sound and feel believable and helps build the character of Alvin.
As with all of these Imprint releases there is a slew of special features that really add to the historical context of the movie. Hearing about how David Lynch came across and got into this movie was especially interesting.
The Straight Story is a really fascinating movie that you absolutely owe it to yourself to check out. It takes it’s time to tell a story that is well worth hearing, as long as you’re in the right mood.