Film Review: True Stories

David Byrne’s Eccentric Masterpiece


True Stories is a strange, wonderful movie.

Have you ever listened to Talking Heads? If you haven’t, your parents may have. (If they’re cool.) Their music is energetic, eccentric, deep at times, and so wildly New Wave. I really like Talking Heads. So when I heard that their front man, David Byrne, directed a movie, I had to check it out. This movie is 1986’s True Stories. Tagline: “A completely cool, multi-purpose movie.” And that it is. Let’s get into it!

What’s the plot?

True Stories is a movie about Virgil, Texas; a small town full of wonderfully eccentric people preparing for the 150th anniversary of the founding of Texas. We meet our main character, Louis Fyne, a clean-room worker in the local microelectronics factory who is singularly obsessed with matrimony. The primary plot of the movie is concerned with his search for love, encountering some strange and whimsical characters along the way. Alongside this, David Byrne as the narrator travels around the town; showing the audience the strange modern beauty of Middle America. We are shown a mall and view the wonders of fashion in a strange musical number. We see a modern housing development with prefabricated homes waiting to be occupied by families, and have a short beautiful moment with newspapers blowing in the wind. All throughout, this movie is magical and whimsical in an intensely normal way, a way that is understandable to anyone who watches it.

What do I think?

This movie holds a very special place in my heart. Its particular brand of whimsical Americana is a perfect mood to get away from the stresses of life and imagine a kooky and idealized version of America, where there are rich women who never leave their beds and people who claim to be able to hear the tones and feelings of people’s minds. This movie is a melting pot of brilliant ideas and simple, creative narration and shot structure that makes me swoon every time I think of it. True Stories is about as close as anyone could get to a perfect movie for me, and I cannot recommend it enough.