Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

That scene, you know the one, is posed a bit like a priest's confessional box, right down to a separation of perspective, a wall where one cannot see the confessing individual. They are separated by a mirror, and this lets Wenders and his clever little crew impose the faces of each person involved on that of the other, letting their identities blend.

Every inch of that scene is calculated to build the emotional impact. From the way Travis turns his back before starting his confession to the bare, exposed insulation on the other side of it, everything speaks to the emotional states present, feeding our senses with the stark, soul-baring, cathartic Moment.

If this film were nothing more than that scene, it would still be a favorite of mine, but no, Wenders gives us so much more to love. The long, quiet stretches of desert are breathtaking, and the carefully revealed backstory sets the tone of the first half of the film--an alienating, lonely mystery that is burned away by a little over halfway through most powerfully when Travis and Hunter finally bond as they walk home from school together (another perfectly crafted film moment I could go on and on about).

There's some complaint to be made about the story of Walt and Anne and its ambiguous ending (it seems to be implied that they might have fallen apart without Hunter, but it wasn't completely solid to my mind). Both Walt and Anne seem to have a deep affection in them, most notably Walt for his brother, Anne for her adopted son. This drives a small wedge between them that comes to a head as Hunter calls home from his unplanned road trip with Travis. The two weep and yell at the phone and desperately try to bring back their son, but in the end, they are left staring at each other with emotional scars showing plainly on their faces, and we never hear from them again.

Their tale fits somewhat with the overall theme of loss and sacrifice. They must have given up much to care for Hunter when Jane and Travis vanished--indeed, it must have been painful for Walt especially to lose the brother he obviously cared for. Similarly, Travis ends the film giving up the family he so clearly hoped for for the bettering of his wife and son. As we see when he first confronts Jane, there's still a deep well of anger and jealousy in him. He learns in that moment that he won't be able to get back what he once had. There's a potential in his bond with Hunter for that magnitude of love, but unfortunately, that magnitude of love is what requires that he give up everything in order that Hunter and Jane might get what they deserve.

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