Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas ★★★★★

Distance is a part of Paris, Texas's humanity. The distance between walls and glass and rooms. The distance of place and time. Human experience is tied not to otherworldly unfound meanings, but to the places we've been and when. If the experience isn't being made, it has been had. And reflecting on those things and what brings purpose to what Travis Henderson does, it is a power this film conveys so beautifully. As a road movie, as an art film, as a mid-day television filler, distance is universal and Paris, Texas is on that path. This is seen in Wim Wenders's gorgeously humble direction, in Sam Shepard's down-to-Earth but always questioning writing, and in Robby Müller's cinematography that can feel equally straight-forward and subversive. Paris, Texas's final purpose might not involve being understood. But it doesn't shy away from letting a viewer find deeper meaning. The film doesn't let itself get carried away in its own brilliance. The beauty is on the surface, even moreso beneath and beyond it. And by the end, it does feel like a distance traveled. To even look back toward the beginning feels like a mindful journey. In little observations of that distance, in the experience of its characters and our own as well, is distance a detail to humanity? Does humanity bring with it distance or does it exist regardless? Is distance a flaw? Is it always so inevitable?

Paris, Texas finds distance to be its returning question. And in distance I find its most harrowing detail, not so much an answer but more of an added thought. Paris, Texas, in all of its strange grasps to soul and to memory, is a film about leaving. Not just the distance that comes from leaving, a gap in time and in place, but what it means to leave. Leaving is a requirement after all, and in some inevitability of narrative each character left long before the film had even begun. Paris, Texas is so brilliant in my eyes when understanding its ultimate and inevitable conflict of having left, returning, and leaving again.

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