I mentioned earlier that one of my attachments to this rather unusual offering from David Lynch is its portrayal of the midwest, a world often overlooked and almost always misunderstood in the world of cinema. While directors like Jim Jarmusch are able to make observations at a passing glance, few truly capture the combination of ignorant bliss and unbridled ennui that exists in this region of The United States. I will admit that the shot of Alvin leaving Laurens had me doing a double take, because the similarities to the town of Creighton, Nebraska where my grandparents live is quite uncanny, perhaps due to its being under a hundred miles from the border of Iowa, or more likely due the the general listless blasé look of every main road in the small towns that consume this stretch of America. Perhaps no director can capture this blatant starkness quite like Lynch, it is almost as though this part of society exists solely to be filmed by Lynch. The surrealist elements of his filmmaking certainly lend to this subject matter as well, because one realizes the inherently inexplicable nature of the midwest while occupying its archaic spaces, things like religion and iniquities often coexist in these small towns, and in a very sneaky way Lynch manages to call upon these problematic juxtapositions with great precision, particularly when Alvin has a deeply moving conversation with a priest, only to turn around and consume a drink at a bar. Finally, and perhaps most accurate, is the idea of young flight, as it relates to The Straight Story and much of the small town midwest as well. Many of the towns, like Laurens lack a youth population, as they move to cities for jobs and a more technologically connect life, never returning or even considering the possibilities of revisiting, and instead these towns become filled with persons like Alvin and his friends who simply remember and falsely reconcile with their pasts, only on rare occasions make the necessary trips to fix their often unspoken problems.
Key Scene: This journey story, as should be expected, is all about the ending and it certainly comes to fruition in this marvelous piece of cinema.
I borrowed this on a recommendation and was so instantly enamored with it that I went out and purchased my own copy, feel free to rent it before buying, but I will save you the step and tell you just to buy it off the bat.