Paris, Texas (1984)

Paris, Texas
Directed by Wim Wenders
Written by L.M. Kit Carson and Sam Shepard
(number 400)

A yes, one of these films which I start to watch with no idea what it’s about or what to expect. First up, we see a Mathew Mcconaughey in True Detective looking guy wandering through the desert with no water. Mostly I was struck by the beauty of the landscape. From there the film reminded me of Electra Glide in Blue and Rain Man.

Those big wide open white deserts with the intense blue sky is starting to be familiar to me now. I’m impressed with how quickly this film drew me in, how much I was interested right away in the characters and the stories. It’s not a fast paced film, and the answers aren’t immediately forthcoming, you need to wait and be patient.

I enjoy watching movies which spend so much time with the architecture and layout of the city. You don’t often see these angles of the highways of Los Angeles, the gently inclinging suburban hill, the view over the airport. It’s charming.

Does it make me love the people? Absolutely. I loved Walt almost immediately on account of it being Harry Dean Stanton, whom I’ve loved since Quantum Leap back in the 80s.

I took a bit longer to warm to Travis, but I got there. Walt’s wife and the kid, Hunter are generally very likeable. They don’t do anything particularly outstanding or unexpected, but the sequences about Travis wanting to walk Hunter home are a great mini-arc within the bigger story. First rejection, then tentative acceptance. It was very sweet.

I loved Jane right away when we met her, and the monologue scene is heart rending to watch. Throughout the movie you’re wondering what happened to Travis for those four years, and finally when you do find out… you don’t want to know. That stuff is dark. I also don’t love the association between abused woman and the sex industry. It’s a common line drawn and I don’t think it’s necessary. But that said, I found her very compelling to watch and was pleased to see her reunited with her son.

Bechdel test: Three named women; Anne (the perfect suburban housewife), Jane (the lost love, fallen woman) and Carmelita (the Latina maid)… but they only talk to the men.

Best line:

Walt: We live in the suburbs, but I’ve got my business in town
Travis: Oh yeah? What’s your business?
Walt: I make billboard signs for advertising.
Travis: Oh yeah? So *you*’re the one who makes those signs, I love those. Some of them are beautiful.
Walt: I’m not the only one who makes them, Trav.

State of Mind: I enjoyed that quite a lot but I don’t love the ending. I guess there’s too many unanswered questions, specifically ‘what happens next?’ but some people have found a bit of peace or closure so that’s satisfying. I suspect I may watch this film again, at least the first half or so…

Watched movie count


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