Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas ★★★★★

My gosh, this film crushed me. Harry Dean Stanton is a treasure.

There are so many beautiful moments in this. The Super 8 home movie montage with Travis watching on, his facial expressions so subtle yet so poignant and young Hunter picking up on it. The walk home from school with Travis and Hunter walking in parallel on opposite sides of the street. Travis watching from the parking lot below as mother and son are reunited, Travis having accomplished his goal, yet there's a strong sense of sadness of how things ultimately turned out. And then there's the scene at the end between Travis and Jane. That scene. My word. Beyond the obviously exceptional acting, what brilliant use of the (semi) one-way mirror by Wenders to build emotion and tension. I'm sure it's been pointed out a bazillion times in the 30+ years since this film came out, but the staging wonderfully parallels a confessional. There are very few scenes which have you literally leaning forward, totally transfixed on every next word of dialogue. Both of the scenes between Travis and Jane had me doing that.

Beyond its poignancy, this film has such beautiful photography, from the barren, hushed desert landscapes to the musty motel rooms to the night-time neon lighting against the lonely storefronts and gas stations. Just mesmerizing images.

If there are any negatives to this film, I guess it could be the pacing up til when Travis locates Jane. But you know what, it honestly never really bothered me. From the moment Travis stepped on screen, I was totally captivated by that character and his journey, even if it is slow-moving. And that's a testament to Harry Dean Stanton and his wonderful talent. Dean Stockwell (always loved his small role in Blue Velvet), Hunter Carson, and Nastassja Kinski are also exceptional. And I can't not mention the great Sam Shepard, who wrote the script.

Travis Henderson has quickly vaulted to one of my favorite characters in film. Rest in peace, Mr. Stanton.