Movie Review – The Straight Story

Posted: April 11, 2015 in Movie Reviews
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The Straight Story is as straight and simple a movie could get by someone like Lynch. If you had watched Mulholland Drive which most of the film buffs associate with, when thinking about Lynch, this movie would come as a shocker. Like everyone, even for me, his very famous Mulholland Drive was the first movie of his I watched. And some 4 years back, I had a chance to watch the first five minutes of Inland Empire. That was the time I used to move the slider and see how the movie is. I thought the print wasn’t fine so didn’t watch it back then and haven’t watched it till now. The first five minutes of Inland Empire was as eerie as it could get. That too fresh from Mulholland Drive memory I didn’t want to crank my mind yet.

the straight story

Look at his name, Lynch. Even the name is crooked. Don’t take me wrong here when I say ‘crooked’. His movies aren’t crooked in a way Nolan’s is, with plot convolutions and all. His weirdness is one of his kind. He is an artistic monkey I must say. And something which you don’t get any clue of. Something you are not supposed to understand no matter how much you try. And it is also something you don’t keep it out of the shelf because it has ‘twists’. If you had watched Mulholland Drive and had not been flabbergasted. Then there is some serious mistake with you. I mean you’ll know the difference when a potter makes a pot and when an electrician make a pot right. What’s with earth and gravel cannot be equal to what’s in porcelain.

Look at his name, Lynch. Doesn’t have vowels, did you notice that? There was this guy called as Mark Lynn in Metro News. One handsome dude. As far as I know, the best news reporter. Neat and Tidy. Unless like one Arnab Goswami. This guy, Lynn is so professional and neat, you’d associate a film like The Straight Story with him. Lynch on the other hand. L followed by Y. How many names would you see in that fashion? As if L is twisted and forms as the top half of Y. Funny isn’t it. That’s kind of twisted guy Lynch is.

The Straight Story’s opening is a long sequence where he shows stars and titles. Then there is one rice reaper. That rice reaper for some reason looks scary. Reminded me of Interstellar opening scene. Now thinking of that, the corn fields and agriculture. Quite a weird opening for Sci-Fi isn’t it. The sequences are interesting. The first lady in the frame doesn’t come any time after it, then there is second lady, resembling the wife of Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt, then there is an old guy who walks out of the bar. There are lot of instances you think that, this is the protagonist… that is the protagonist etc. But the real protagonist comes a long time later.

The opening sequences where the camera comes from the top to bottom, moving behind the sun bath lady etc. and all was quite ambitious. Trying too much to show his caliber. For a simple film like this you don’t associate these kind of shots with it. Because it’s one of a kind road movie. A kind of movie which you’d even forget that it’s a road movie, in spite of various hardships the protagonist faces. Because the protagonist is so dejected. When he takes the road its more because of his exhaustion. It’s not that he want to venture out there, tick things of the bucket list etc.

It’s not as profound a film like ‘Tokyo Story’ which deals with old age. But when someone asks, “what’s the worst thing about getting old” he says, “the worst thing is when you think how you were when you were young.” That was sad, really sad!

As it’s a road movie, obviously you’d get a lot of acquaintances and stories. That’s quite unavoidable but it’s not coming of age like Into the Wild or ‘coming of age’ like Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwani. It’s an old man’s take on environment.  There were quite a few instances where people ridicule him, think that he is crazy and all but he takes everything with a smile. When his hat flies off he doesn’t curse, when the lady whom he crosses by gives him a weird look he doesn’t make face. He’s a happy man, lifting his hat and waving to children whenever he crosses roads. He’s happy to have crossed the Mississippi river, happy to light his cigar, happy to watch the storm while resting inside a shed. He has lived his life, he’s content, he wants to make peace, with his brother as well as with everyone else.

I’d have loved if the lady had not gotten on with him, I’d have loved if had not given any advice to the youngsters, I’d have loved if had had to take on bus but those were never to happen. It kind of disappointed me when I watched but when I write now I’m okay. I’m okay the way he travelled. Everyone doesn’t travel in the same way.

His daughter is a lovely lady, reminding me severely of Francis Mcdormand from Fargo. That’s a beautiful touch to the story.

It takes a long while to realize that it’s a road movie. Again I repeat it’s not something you would remember as a road movie when you think of road movies. I would be certainly remembering because my friend wrote a review on this under the category ‘road movies’. I thought that one the first mower breaks down he wouldn’t venture out again but he casually goes out with his gun, shoots it and buys a second mower because he doesn’t have a driver’s license. That’s his character. That’s the kind of person he is. He could be like him only because he has a daughter like that. When he says that, “People think that my daughter is slow but I say she’s real good.” There is a moment of pride in that. Shows much about love and how much content and is ready to pass away.

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