199 words about The Straight Story
The long lawnmowering home
In the latest season of Twin Peaks, Deputy Director Cole is David Lynch telling David Duchovny who is Denise about what he told her colleagues when she first came out as transgender. He said that he said, “Fix your hearts or die.” A threat — David Lynch’s images can feel threatening — and a diagnosis. His films aren’t difficult, they’re primordial, prescriptive of a soul’s subconscious, like therapy revealing what you want it to. Our hearts are broken, he shows us; let’s creep toward the beating light. The Straight Story follows old man Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) as he creeps toward that light in a riding lawnmower, heading for his sick brother a few Midwestern states away. At a walking pace. People ask why Alvin is doing this. He says this is what he must. Weeks later he arrives at his sick brother’s doorstep to see the estranged man he’s spent decades avoiding. Along the way, he’s helped (a John Deere salesman sees in him a spiritual kinship) by people with large hearts, which in some cases may be congenital. This is an America of fixing hearts, of small gestures of empathy glowing like constellations among the opaque patriotic galaxy we call home.