The Straight Story

Every once in a while, a movie is made that somehow manages to fly under the radar when it really should be celebrated from year to year.   When it comes to this movie, the imdb rating was 4 out of 5 stars and the Rotten Tomatoes rating was 95%!   It was an official selection for the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.

No word of a lie, my friends.  This movie was — and continues to be — one of those movies that endures because it tells an enduring story that talks to the heart of all good people.

Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote that it was “an eloquently simple, deeply emotional movie.”

Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribute wrote that it was “a great, haunting film” and referred to it as a sweet and compassionate movie.

Recently, I watched this movie, and was amazed and moved by it.  The simplicity needed to tell this story effectively was bolstered by the candor of the main character and the honest reactions of the supporting cast.  The cinematography was breathtaking and the music, while identifiably there, never interfered with the message.

There aren’t too many movies who can lay claim to that kind of a powerful presentation.  What made this all the more impressive was that this movie was directed by the man better known for his work on “Twin Peaks” and “Mulholland Drive” and “Elephant Man.”  He drew impactful performances from the actors that rang true with audiences.

Of course, once you realize that the director is a Renaissance man for modern times with his many creative endeavors and accomplishments, it becomes less of a surprise that he was one of the major energies behind the creation of this movie. 

This director even had the foresight to shoot the entire movie along the actual route taken by Alvin Straight, and to have all scenes that were shot appear in chronological order in the movie. 

Some of you might be saying, “All right already … what movie are you talking about?”  Rather than tell you, I am including a trailer for the movie which speaks more persuasively about the movie than I ever could.

Rob Nelson of the City Pages of Minneapolis/St. Paul encapsulated the movie by writing:  “One could say that The Straight Story is a twilight Western on the order of Unforgiven, except that the pale rider here mounts a snail-paced John Deere instead of a stallion.”

Truth be told, that’s exactly what this movie is, and if you have the urge to invest 112 minutes into a well-told story — whether you find a copy at your local used DVD store or it shows on late night television — then “The Straight Story” is the one to check out.

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