The Straight Story
The Straight Story is a bedrock film in which Lynch inverts all his places, objects and characters by exposing all of them without exception towards the sun. Clearly, it is a film of contrast, capable of demonstrating that the “matter” of Lynch’s cinema, when solarized, can take on a classic and moving tone…
An elderly man wants to reach his brother to make peace with him but has only one way of getting there: taking a small tractor across half of America. The Straight Story recaptures, although in a deconstructed version, the spirit of the classic road movie. Somehow, Lynch intends to suggest that The Straight Story is Wild at Heart turned upside down: Big Tuna is replaced with a hospitable and very human rural community, the most ferocious accidents are replaced with tragic conflicts of a benign nature, and man-on-man violence is healed through a journey and forgiveness. Now, there are two ways of interpreting The Straight Story: there are those who think that Lynch has not changed much and look for the film’s disturbing elements to prove that we are still dealing with a world that is more like a nightmare than a dream; and those who think Lynch is (too) conciliatory… Both seemingly feuding factions are wrong. The Straight Story is pure Lynch, but upside down. The film seems to be an easy win: use all of Lynch’s materials, expose them “to the sun”, shape them positively and tell the story of America… The Straight Story is a story of decency, dignity and honour in all its forms through a journey in stages (and a false start) that presents itself as “straight” like the direct and stubborn protagonist. The deviations do not impede the journey – unlike its antithesis Wild at Heart – on the contrary, they reinforce it. In fact, Alvin not only chose to make the journey, but he chose to do it slowly. Respectful of his age, the protagonist travels at eight kilometres an hour and takes the time he needs to walk across the slab of America that separates him from his sick brother. The road becomes the space of earning forgiveness.
Screening as part of our year-long retrospective - Dreaming of Darkness: The Films of David Lynch
Programme Type: Film
Director: David Lynch
Cast: Richard Farnsworth, Harry Dead Stanton
Running Time: 112 minutes