Cinema Club: Paris, Texas (1984)

Posted on August 20, 2013

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Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)

So let me get this straight. A bearded man is walking in the desert, the vast beautiful desert, with no clear direction. He collapses, awakes in a hospital and is seemingly mute. His family are contacted, and they go to great lengths to find and help him. He still tries to avoid them, but eventually relents. There is a long drive home, during which he begins to open up. It turns out he was a man of responsibility, with a wife and child, whom he abandoned in favour of isolation and the open road. Still, any mention of this abandoned past only seems to make him well up with sadness. His abandoned child lives with his brother, and his estranged wife is nowhere to be seen. After a little cajoling in the shape of a home movie, he makes an effort to reconcile with his past.

It doesn’t go too well to begin with, but soon enough things perk up. His relationship with his son even seems to improve. There’s even a heartwarming (literally, the temperature of my heart increased whilst viewing) scene where they walk home from school on opposite sides of the road, with son mimicking father. News comes through that the wife is in Texas, depositing money in a bank every month. In what would be the final act of facing the past, he decides to go and find her. The son chooses to go too.

It is at this point that I realise that Una really likes films with adorable children in them.

As good as the first portion of the film is, and believe me when I say it is damn good, things seriously pick up in the home stretch. Wim Wenders, the director, pulls a masterstroke in holding off on the introduction of the wife until right at the end, and it proves for some of the most gloriously affecting scenes I have seen in any of these movie films. The first of them is terribly awkward, but of course that is the point. (I will say that my enjoyment of this scene was slightly ruined by the sound of a man throwing up on the street outside. Not cool mate, not cool). The acting is fantastically understated as well, no overwrought dramatics, just bare human emotion, exactly what is required. I throw around this term more than I would like, but it is magic.

You can definitely chalk this down as another on the list of ‘Best Movies Ever’ that I’ve greatly enjoyed. That’s an understatement, but they are the words that came from my fingers when typing. There isn’t a single thing about this movie I disliked. A man running away from his life in a foreign land? Of course I’m going to enjoy this. The sheer perfection in emotion displayed by every single character when he returns to face up to everything? Spot on. Adorable child actor? Brilliant. Introduction of main character at late stage (who happens to be unreasonably beautiful) leading to some of the best scenes I ever did see? I’ll take two please.

I’ll take them all.

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Posted in: Cinema, Reviews