Paris, Texas ★★★★½

Paris, Texas has no tangible definition for Travis. It is more or less imagined, as the place where he began and as the place where he once dreamed that he would live with his wife, Jane, and his son, Hunter. He has never been there; he only has a faded picture of a plot of land, empty so he can make it full. But Travis’s Parisian dream never actualizes, as Paris, Texas is a story of brutal truth, of necessary loss, and of half-redemption.

The end of the film sees Travis driving on the highway, alone and tearful, as Jane and Hunter reunite in a hotel room—room 1520—as was arranged. I imagine that most Hollywood versions of Paris, Texas would end with the whole family reunited, perhaps in a new house on that old lot. But Sam Shepard—named "the greatest American playwright of his generation"—does not write shortcuts. Sometimes, things cannot be repaired. Sometimes, wounds never heal. Most times, in fact, relationships that end in abuse and arson do not begin again merrily in the middle of nowhere. But still ever faithful to the realer-than-dirt Travis so painfully portrayed by Harry Dean Stanton, Paris, Texas begins with blind (and mute) hope of a broken life made whole.

"I knew these people … These two people. They were in love with each other," Travis begins. "Room 1520" is how he finishes. He knew that the best situation for those he loved most in the world excluded him. He knew that, for them to be together, he had to be alone.

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