Preview #4: The Straight Story (1999)

The Trailer:

What do I know about this movie?: Quite a lot. It’s based on the story of Alvin Straight, a man from a small town in northwestern Iowa, who learned that his estranged brother was sick. He wanted to see that brother and try to put things right between them, but he no longer had a driver’s license, and the brother lived over 200 miles away. So he did the only thing he could do: He hitched up a trailer to his lawn tractor and drove there. I remember hearing about this when it happened in the mid-1990s and I knew there was a movie about it. I did not know David Lynch directed the movie.

What do I expect from this movie?: Normally you’d expect something surreal, disturbing, violent, and/or sexual from the man who made Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Twin Peaks, but this is a G-rated movie released by Disney, and I am not making that up.

Lynch apparently filmed this movie entirely on location, in sequential order, along the same route that Alvin Straight followed between Laurens, Iowa, and his brother’s home in southwest Wisconsin. So I’m going to see a lot of Iowa. This is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. In the hands of any other filmmaker I’d be worried that the people of my home state would come across as the usual collection of ignorant weirdo hicks that comprise the population of Iowa in the popular imagination. (On the very off chance that an aspiring screenwriter or director is reading this, people from Iowa do not have Southern accents.) But David Lynch did not become David Lynch by being predictable. I’m going to guess the title of the movie reflects his intentions and he’s going to tell this story, well … straight.

I’m really looking forward to this one after a long week at work and a couple weeks of flawed but likeable movies.

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