Paris, Texas Movie Review
Wim Wender's film opens with Travis wandering in a Texas desert. Lost for four years, Travis' brother, Walt, travels to Texas to claim him and takes him back to Los Angeles where Walt lives with his wife and Travis' son. Given Travis' absence, his son has all but forgotten about him -- causing Travis to clean up his act and get his life back in order. Given that Travis doesn't say a word for the first 20 minutes of the film, it's a little bizarre when the film focuses solely on him in the second and third acts -- turning a blind eye to Walt and his wife, who have been moving the story along for the first half.
Yet, this shift in focus is what allows the film to break free from the family melodrama and develop the thematic underpinnings of Travis' hopes of becoming a father and reconciling with his old girlfriend. But Travis has it all backwards -- he puts on different clothes to determine the type of father he wants to be, pulls his son away from his surrogate mother and father to drive back to Texas to find his stripper mother. His quest for closure begins with a dream and ends with reality. People don't change, they try to escape -- by wandering the desert or becoming a glorified stripper, as in the case of Travis and his girlfriend -- but the dreams of Paris fade into the static landscape of Paris, Texas.
Given that desolate landscape mirrors Travis' stark reality, it's odd, at first, that Wenders paints the film with such stunning imagery. Using green, red, yellow, and orange filters, the Texan colors vibrate, resonating on screen like a foreign civilization that isn't too far from our own. Yet, this visually-stunning landscape is still harsh and unforgiving. The only problem is that the picture is incomplete.
While Travis is off searching for something he can never have -- fatherhood, a marriage -- Wenders abandons Walt and his wife, even after they question what they would do if their adopted son, Travis' son, were to leave them. When he does, there's nothing but an abrupt phone call to console them. But Wenders doesn't explore their childless reality; that their dream of a family is over. It's a minor complaint considering that Travis' dilemma is far more interesting and, in two and half hours, the story line takes its time to develop, but never drags. It's the evolution of a dream and the discovery of reality.