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USA 1984
Directed by
Wim Wenders
150 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Paris, Texas

The mix of Wender's European sensibility, Sam Shepard's laconic text (also worked on by L.M. Kit Carson), Robby Muller's superb cinematography, combined with Harry Dean Stanton's and Nastassja Kinski's empathetic performances along with Ry Cooder's spare music makes Paris,Texas an impressive work that was a huge art-house hit in its day.

Then at the high-point of his career Stanton plays Travis, a man putting his life back together after a traumatic break-up with his much younger wife (Kinski). What another director may have made of Shepard's typically wounded-in-love Western text is another matter (Robert Altman's Fool For Love  written by Shepard and in which Stanton also appeared, released the following year, is an indication) but Wenders, from the-now classic opening scene of Stanton in the dust-bowl Mexican desert to the closing scene of Travis alone in a lurid green-lit carpark in Houston, is a poignant account, in an Antonioni-like existentialist manner of one man's attempt to reconcile himself with his past.

Recalling at times the director's early Alice In The Cities (1974), as well as any number of films in which a child (here well-played by ten-year old Hunter Carson) provides the catalyst for a male protagonist to get in touch with himself. A sub-plot about Travis's brother and wife (Dean Stockwell and Aurore Clement) tends to simply fade away and anyone who can accept Kinski as the wife is truly an optimist. Zeitgeist enthusiasm swept such quibbles aside however and the film won the Grand Prize at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival  and it remains one of the iconic films of the 1980s.




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