Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas ★★★★

The five star reviews for this film are probably justified for someone who appreciates the cold, calculated, detached and arguably impersonal society this film portrays. There's no doubting the beauty of Wim Wenders films, anyone who saw " Wings Of Desire" should be able to fully understand what I mean. He captures the little things that most people would deem inconsequential and turns them into something almost magical. From that opening shot of the vastness of that desert landscape, and that haunting Ry Cooder score, you know Wenders is going to take his time to reveal his intentions.
Harry Dean Stanton is a very fine actor and as he wanders out of the desert in a dusty suit and baseball cap, he is a mysterious figure. Suffering dehydration and amnesia he collapses. For more than an hour he remains that unknown quantity until he finally reveals something about his whereabouts. He's been missing four years and his now 7 year old son has been living with his brother after his mother had also walked out on him. The movie is slow, painfully slow at points and as Stanton's "Travis" starts to piece his life back together with the help of brother "Walt" (Dean Stockwell), his fractured mind and memory begin to recover. There are moments of levity, but the anguish shown in Stanton's eyes, echo the pain he admits to inflicting on his loved ones later in the film. It's emotional stuff, and with Stockwell a good foil for Stanton's monosyllabic Travis in the opening couple of hours the light is slowly shed on the traumas of the past. That's what I got from this movie, the story of one man's quest for redemption. He's made mistakes and with guilt and self-loathing comes isolation and loneliness. What he's done, he's done to himself and only he can make it right.
When Travis has rebuilt something approaching a relationship with his young son he sets out to find his wife played by Nastassja Kinski. The final 30 minutes of this film are raw and powerful. Stanton's backstory, painfully told in his account to wife Jane is heartbreaking and very emotionally charged. His crimes against his family and his jealousy and need for control over Jane is horrifying in it's callousness. Attempting to do the right thing is the least he can do. Stanton has never been better. Kinski is as good as I've ever seen her which isn't a lot if truth be told. Javier was right, this is atmospheric and quite bleak at times but worth the journey for an acting masterclass from Stanton.

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