Published Feb 01, 2000It's an unusual story for a number of reasons. It's true, for one thing - a 73-year-old man named Alvin Straight, too old to drive a car and too broke to travel by other means, did drive a 1966 John Deere lawnmower from Laurens, Iowa to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin in order to visit his ailing brother, from whom he'd been estranged for a number of years. Surprisingly, this charmingly sweet tale is directed by David Lynch, a man better known for his artistic explorations of darker human impulses than this, in films like Blue Velvet and Wild At Heart. Much of The Straight Story, in fact, looks like the opening scenes of Blue Velvet, where small-town America is shot in such still beauty, but where that tale delved deep into the dark side of what lay beneath, this one is hopeful and uplifting. At its heart and soul is the lead character, played by former stuntman turned actor Richard Farnsworth (The Grey Owl), who came out of retirement for the role. He brings to Alvin Straight a real sense of dignity. He's a man of few words, but his determination and willful desire to make good - to see his brother before the end comes for either of them - is etched in his every facial expression. It's a rare and wondrous expression of what one person makes of a life as it comes to its conclusion.