Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Paris, Texas (1984)

Directed by Wim Wenders

Starring Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski, Dean Stockwell

Author

Definitely something different, maybe one of the better movies to come out during a very awkward time for movies.

Wasn’t sure I was on board at first, with things moving so slowly and Stanton’s vacant, emotionally unexpressive performance leading the way. Stanton has never been one of my favorites, with most of his performances lacking emotion and warmth and authenticity. All too often, it feels like he’s reading lines from the script without making them his own. But as this story went on, it started to work. Turns out the emotionally vacant character in this story was the perfect vehicle for him. Kinski is good in a supporting role. Her accent is mostly good, and with her youth and dyed hair looks a bit like Alice Eve. ClĂ©ment is awkward as brother’s very obviously French wife. Why make her French? It begs questions like how he met her. Is this supposed to be some weird tie-in with Paris?

Performances aside, there are some quibbles with the script. How is there an obviously German doctor in a tiny Texas town in the beginning? After the pick-up, Walt seems a little too OK with Travis’ non-talking at the beginning. He really wants to know what happened to him, but he lets it slide for a while. How does Jane not recognize her ex-husband’s voice during his first visit to the peep show? Travis doesn’t even try to disguise it.

Interesting how times have changed, with no seat belts, smoking everywhere, and no qualms abandoning a child for significant periods of time outside a bank or in a car. Amazing how we all functioned without cell phones.

Hints of Forrest Gump as Travis marches across the desert wilderness wearing a red baseball cap, and hints of Rainman as Walt desperately tries to connect with him on his road trip back to LA.

American and surprisingly prolific writer Sam Shepard came up with the script, but how does a German art film director choose this small story in the American south? Silly name for the movie, I think. Paris itself has little significance to the plot.

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