Paris, Texas ★★★★★

Palme d’Or Winners Project, 1984

The broad empty landscapes of dusky Southern American seem impossible to fill, such is the scope and size of the land. Yet one man has walked for what seems like forever, a solitary figure burning with quiet determination, pervading everything around him. With the remnants of home laying far behind life can only move on when this journey is at an end.

The mystery that lies underneath this man's sad, deep brown eyes is in no hurry to reveal itself. Four years spent wandering figuratively and literally through the wilderness has left it buried deep inside, its burning coals the only thing to sustain him for so long. Any tears have long been dried out by the unforgiving sun, his memories threatening to dry and crack under the heat.

Emotions are the driving force of this beautifully written adaptation. Like this fragmented family we have to be patient and wait for our rewards carefully constructed across the sparse narrative. There is so much yearning between these people who need to be reunited, even if it is for a short time, a level of restlessness that only comes when souls cannot be satisfied.

What makes this feel so earnestly real is the absence of any cheap tricks or ploys tricking us for an emotional connection. Harry Dean Stanton was plagued with doubt over his ability to be the focal point of the film yet there is no-one else who could possibly have played this role. Travis' story is all in that face. It feels like very little acting is happening, almost as if Stanton is injecting his own soulful pain into this man's life.

Ry Cooder's poignant score and Robby Mullers simple, evocative photography inform us of the characters almost as much as the words they deliver. Nothing feels underdeveloped by Wenders, no dry rock left unturned in telling us their tale. We may want more for Travis by the end but it ends on the perfect note with the road once again set out before him.

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