Paris, Texas - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Paris, Texas Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 3, 2007
A man wordlessly stumbles out of the desert after disappearing without a trace four years previously and sets about reclaiming his lost family. Harry Dean Stanton is one of those faces that everyone knows without knowing they know; a remarkable character actor who took very few lead roles. His wonderfully understated performance is the centrepiece to Wim Wenders' road movie dealing with love and loss that's chock full of beautiful imagery. In fact it's a little ironic that it took a German to capture so completely the "feel" of middle America but this piece of audio-visual poetry is one of the purest examples of mainstream cinema as an art form. No-one could fail to be captivated by his scenes with estranged wife Nastassja Kinski whose first appearance on screen has become an iconic image. Its ponderous pace and lengthy running time will not appeal to those looking for action or melodrama, but Paris, Texas is more an experience than a piece of entertainment and if approached as such is rather unforgettable.
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2011
Eyes glued to the screen from beginning to end. Plus my favorite score of all time, provided by Ry Cooder, interpreting Dark Was The Night by Blind Willie Johnson.
Super Reviewer
½ May 25, 2011
In terms of film-making, the term "simple" is often used as a pejorative. But sometimes the simplest of stories can yield some of the most compelling results. Win Wenders' 1984 "Paris, Texas", is a modest yet moving portrait of a man in search of his roots. Harry Dean Stanton is as amazing as ever as a man who, after a four year separation from his family, has come back find who he was/is.
Much like Wenders' "Wings of Desire", much attention is given to the setting to show how seemingly insignificant we are in comparison to our surroundings. Yet, rather than war torn Germany, Paris, Texas features panoramic shots of the Texas badlands. With a character so arcane and withdrawn from the world, Wenders utilizes the power of atmosphere coupled with Stanton's acting prowess to fill in the parts of the story where the words won't suffice.
It is a story about the path to finding one's identity and Wenders finds so many ways to convey this journey.The freeway scene is a brilliant metaphor for how we as humans go through life. We seem to be traveling down this open road at breakneck speed, making last minute lane changes in hopes to catch up with the life we so desire.
The film moves at a snails pace, but I get the sense that Wenders doesn't want to rush Travis' journey. I think it is a smart touch as by the films conclusion, one feels that we were allowed to drink in so much of his life that his image kind of sticks with us. There have been many times in my life where I have felt like a Travis and I think the film beautifully encapsulates the confusing and often heart wrenching journey that one must take in order to find out who they really are.
Super Reviewer
½ January 29, 2007
poetic in that it is simple in some ways, but epic in others and very emotionally compelling. the film has been described as the great german director wim wender's love letter to america. the beautiful cinematography brings an appeal to the southwest not noticed by most passers by, and the musical score is absolutely masterful. the performances were outstanding, and the characters and story unfolded perfectly, until the last scene, about which im not sure how i feel. it is odd to see a story told so well until the realization that two of our most important characters are left in the dust of the desert the film is set in, and all i keep thinking is "what happened to walt and anne?" this is the one thing holding the film back from masterpiece status, but it is still one of the best films i have ever seen.
Super Reviewer
½ January 20, 2011
To see the United States from an outsider's perspective is a wondrous and interesting thing.This film, and its director, really reminded me a lot of Werner Herzog. Both Herzog and Wenders are German, both have done road/journey movies, have used similar Americana type soundtracks, and have made films giving a unique view of the U.S. In this case, it is the southwest. The Herzog film it most reminds me of is my favorite of is: a perplexing and wild and strange gem called "Stroszek".

This film is just as strange, although I do not find it to quite be the masterpiece it is often heraldd as being. Don't get me wrong, it is fantastic, but I found it hard to get completely immersed in. It's a bit hard to sit through. At times though, when I was able to really tune into the same wavelength this was on, it was quite great.

This film begins like some sort of mystery, and indeed it takes the whole film to really find out what happened, but it lacks the traditional shenanigans of the mystery genre. Even when the answers come to light, I was left unsatisfied and wanting more. That's not a bad thing, either. WHile there is a story and plot, it is not really about those things.

Instead, this is more of a meditation on character, emotions, loneliness, and despair. That Stanton's character is a man of few words (quite literally) is one of the many things that make this film a curiosity worthy of seeking out. Stanton is a brilliant character actor, and this was his first time to take the lead. He's wonderful, and I wish more people would take advantage of his abilities and let him lead more often. The little kid gives one of the better and more interesting performances by a child, and Stockwell is also nice. The two women, while pretty good ,left a little to be desired. The performances aren't bad, just overshadowed.

Besides the acting, the best reaosn to watch this are the music and the cinematography. Ry Cooder's music here is probably the definitive drifter theme in all of cinema and in general. Robby Müller's cinematography is some of the best work done in the last thirty years. From the neon to the vast expanses of landscapes shots, everything looks gorgeous. The way that light and shadow are dealt with is also quite stunning.

As mentioend above, this film is a bit trying on the patience. While it could be a little shorter, I think the real issue here is the pacing. It both works for and agaisnt the film. It's good that the story unfolds graudally, because that's part of the intrigue, but I think it takes a bit too long at times, and the viewer may wonder why some stuff is focused on longer than it should be.

I'm giving this 4.5 or an A- in letter grade terms, but I'm not sure how I really feel about this one. I'm mixed on it, and am not sure how to really accurately describe or grade it. I think that's a sign that this is worth checking out.
Super Reviewer
January 14, 2011
I thought I had this movie all figured out. I thought Travis had gotten into a car accident that killed his wife, and that's why he's mildly catatonic and refuses to drive or sit in the front seat of an automobile.

Well, now I'll eat my hat. This movie is, as Jim Hunter describes, "a long, perambulating film," but I never thought it tried to be deep or understated. There is so much exposition in Travis' confessional that any Intro to Playwriting class would ream it a new arsehole, but for some reason, it works. Perhaps it's because the characters aren't looking at each other. Perhaps it's because Harry Dean Stanton is just so straightforward about it all: his rage, his brutality, his numbness. He's neither overstated nor understated; he's just stated. Perhaps it's because of Nastassja Kinski's complex good girl/bad girl duality. Her coy yet cautious follow-up questions show that she's not entirely naive; she has an inkling about who's on the other side, but she IS still naive enough to will herself to believe it's not so.

Hunter Carson as the precocious, young son is mighty impressive. Hunter and Jane's reunion scene is so unexpected. It's not tearful (at first). It's not resentful. It's not deep. It just is. Hunter gets up, walks over, holds out his arms for an embrace, all at an aching adagio pace.

Lastly, I think I've found a gesture that rivals the inexplicably beautiful woman-putting-on-stud-earrings tableau: woman's-hand-resting-on-clavicle. I mean, looking like Nastassja Kinski might help too.
Super Reviewer
December 13, 2010
The film opens with a man walking in worn-out shoes across the desert, and that image perfectly describes my feelings about the film as a whole. It is a long, perambulating film that tries to be understated but ends up as a let-down that even Sam Shepherd's beautiful writing, Harry Dean Stanton's fine acting, and Nastassja Kinski's gorgeous face (she's the prettiest crier since Ingrid Bergman) can't save. Much of act one does little to set up the film's primary conflict, which doesn't really reveal itself until midway through act two, which is too long to wait to understand to what dramatic question we should attach ourselves. And even the reason why Stanton's character finds direction on his journey is ironically too quickly developed and resolved. I found myself thinking that even a seven-year-old in all his seven-year-old naivete wouldn't forgive that easily.
Overall, I think the film should have started about forty minutes into the story, and it would have achieved the same effect.
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2007
Plenty of praise has been heaped on this. Most of it deserved.
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2009
Beautiful shots. Truly captured the Texas landscape. Very long, but I would sit through it again.
Super Reviewer
½ November 15, 2008
How can anyone call this masterpiece boring? Interesting beautiful & touching
Super Reviewer
August 2, 2007
The film that made a name for Wim Wenders. top notch performances, namely the great Harry Dean Stanton. stunning cinematography and soundtrack. Emotional, sweet and moving.
Super Reviewer
January 3, 2008
After two decades' work as a dependable character actor, Harry Dean Stanton was finally given a richly deserved leading role in this, one of the most iconic films of the 1980s and one of the most beautiful films of any decade. He plays Travis, a damaged refugee from an exploded relationship who pieces back together his life and his dignity after four years in the wilderness, gradually gaining the trust of the son he left behind and setting out to reunite the boy with his mother. I can't understand how anyone can call this a boring movie; even ignoring the great acting, the stunning visuals and the spectral majesty of Ry Cooder's soundtrack, the mystery at the core of the plot - the cataclysmic event which blew these three people apart - is as compelling as that of any detective story. The dramatic centrepiece is a hypnotic and deeply moving monologue, by Stanton, as the estranged lovers finally 'meet' again across the two-way mirror of a peep-show. Though the ending is bittersweet, the message I've always taken from "Paris, Texas" is inspirational: "Don't give up on life, even if your dreams are unattainable."
Super Reviewer
May 28, 2007
All I can say right now, its always been one of my favourites, but after watching it tonight I realized it really sits near the top of the list, and is a perfect film. Wenders' greatest triumph, Harry Dean Stanton's greatest role, an amazingly written and shot film, that is almost beyond words. It really has to be seen by everyone.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ August 13, 2012
Wow, Harry Dean Stanton finally caught his big break in 1984, because after years of playing supporter in big and well-known films, he finally got lead roles into two well-recieved films, like "Repo Man", and later, this film. Of course, it figures that the year Stanton gets his leading roles in acclaimed films is the year no one goes to see the film he's in, except the critics of course. Well, at least this film made its budget, because even in USD, it barely cost a thing, and really, if the budget covered Nastassja Kinski's blonde wig, then they should have saved some money by keeping her brunette, because I'm telling y'all, a lot of beautiful girls are better when brunette, and if nothing else proves that, then it's this film's diluting the attractiveness of Nastassja Kinski, of all people, and she's doing a really good and really pretty Texas accent, so you know that wig drove her down a few notches. Okay, maybe Nastassja Kinski didn't fall that far, as she's still pretty incredibly beautiful, because it's still Nastassja Kinski, only she's not entirely brunette Nastassja Kinski incredibly beautiful (My tongue is getting twisted just from typing Nastassja over and over again, though it might just be because I keep thinking of Nast... that should-be brunette girl), which isn't to say that the film's disappointments end there. No, I like this film just fine, and certainly more than I like the film Wim Wenders did a few years after this, "Wings of Desire". Huh, now that I think about it, I can't tell if Wim Wenders loves slow avant-garde films more or films that deal with crossing cultures, because even when he does a film that's almost entirely in English, it still has to pertain to a place in Texas called Paris, have several foreigners in starring roles and be primarily produced by the US, UK, France and Germany. Well, either way, we can definately tell for certain that, to one degree or another, he loves slow films, avant-garde or not, for although this film is enjoyable, largely because it's not all that avant-garde, or at least not nearly as avant-garde as something like "Wings of Desire" (Few things are as overwhelmingly avant-garde), it's still not the biggest attention-sustainer, even with Nastassja Kinski (Her beautiful self actually doesn't show up until final act or so, so maybe that's why most of the film didn't hold my attention so much).

Okay, now, the film is of course not nearly as painfully drawn out as something like "Wings of Desire", largely because this film has something that "Wings of Desire" didn't have: a plot, or at least until the film even forgets where its going through all of its excessive padding. Clocking in at startlingly close to two-and-a-half hours, the film has more than enough time to unravel its strong story, and boy, does it not let you forget the "more than enough time" part, because as reasonably hefty as this story is, the film goes plagued to nearly no end by scenes that drag nearly to no end, and if you have a hard time believing it's that rough, then buddy, sit back, because I'm understating. Now, don't worry too much kids, because this isn't quite a modern Terrence Malick film, where well over half of the film is comprised of total nothingness, yet much of this film finds itself dragged down to a crawl by excessive bloating through filler material, if not total nothingness, so much so that, as I said, the film altogether momentarily loses focus after a while, and rarely makes a full recovery after that. This film's momentary lapses in focus dilutes resonance and the ceaseless padding slows down the film's momentum to a crawl, but either way, the film drops your attention all too fast and all too often, while dullness sets and leaves you to think about setting into bed. Again, calm down kids, as the film's dull spots aren't relentless, yet the film is relentlessly slow, meditating much too deeply upon the atmosphere of the film to the point of actually tainting the atmosphere with dry blandness, often to where the film does descend as low as dull, and here and there to the film descends as low as all-out boring, because director Wim Wenders wants so bad to make this the hyper-artistic style piece that it just simply isn't. Now, I'm not saying that this film would be any more exciting if was the hyper-artistic style piece that Wenders wants it to be, because no matter which way you look at it, the film is too meditative, too slow, too bloated and too do-little to be anything terribly upstanding, yet chances are that the film would be better, because what it is right now is a dramatic story rich with substance, and on that level, it slips up by Wenders' attemps at making it an art piece, which not only makes the film dull, but all over the place in focus, tone and theme, as well as limited in substance and ultimately not what is should have been, could have been and perhaps would have been if it were in the hands of a more substance-driven and - yes, I'm gonna say it, you pretentious art snobs - "competent" director. As it stands, well, it's at least better than "Wings of Desire", because where Wenders headed that operation and crafted a film that was tremendously mediocre for what it was and by its own right, Wenders' mistakes go battled back by the components to this film that really do deliver, sadly not where the film itself delivers, but decidedly to where the film is enjoyable, as well as even rather impressive as, if nothing else, well... an art piece.

Many of Wim Wenders' artistic touches don't fit all too comfortably, yet there is a certain artistic something that's well welcomed no matter what kind of film you're making, and that is, of course, fine cinematography, for although this film's cinematography's level of impressiveness has dated a bit, Robby Müller's comfortable shot staging, clever lighting and stunning color bounce remains something to behold even to this day. This piece of style definately catches your eye, while what catches your investment is the very story that goes tainted by other forms of style, though not much too much, for although the film's "story"telling styles overwhelm the substance and leave it rather underwhelming in execution, the story remains the primary focus, and it's a strong enough story to where the overstylizing isn't nearly drowned out, yet still to where you can lock in with the story, and mostly with the help of the writing duo of L.M. Kit Carson and, yes, "that" Sam Shepard, who I really wouldn't have pegged as a writer of this kind of stuff (No wonder he played a surviving Butch Cassidy in "Blackwood"; he seems to know a thing or two about secret lives). Hey, I've got to say, if most of Shepard's writing is better than his work here, then maybe he should write a bit more often, for although his and Carson's screenplay isn't especially upstanding, it is reasonably strong, providing thorough insight into this worthy story, as well as believably human and layered characterization that fleshes out the essence of the key components to this character focus, thus making a strong story all the stronger. Ever so unfortunately, Wender undercuts most every right move made by the film's strong writing duo and perhaps stronger source material and subject matter, and for every compelling high point, there are quite a few underwhelming low points, yet make no mistake, this film has its fair share of compelling high points that manage to avoid going tainted by Wenders' undercuts and give us genuinely engaging occasions of resonance that provide a glimpse at the better film that this final product, as a whole, isn't. Still, with all of the film's low points, it never descends so low to the point of being worthy of dismissal, going supported by its worthy story and a writing team that's certainly stronger than the director who executes their work messily, and if all else fails, then you at least have strong performances to fall back on. Everyone holds his or her own, with someone like the stunning Nastassja Kinski stealing the show for the all too brief time she's on, yet it's leading man Harry Dean Stanton who really steps up to the plate, as his Travis Henderson character, an amnesiac who has missed four key years of a that life he's slowly but surely easing into and looking to ameliorate as well as he can, definately presents quite a few acting challenges, many of which have been toned down by the unfortunate writing down of the material, yet many more of which go accomplished by Stanton with ease, as Stanton boasts a soberingly human and heavily layered presence that defines the Henderson character, broken up by high points in emotional range that further breathes life into Henderson and makes a character more compelling than the film itself. Now, with all of my compliments, as I said, Wenders undercuts most every high point in this film with his arrogant, gratuitously over-artistic touches that sadly leaves this film to descend beneath genuinely good, yet, in all honesty, all but just barely, as the strengths in this film stand stronger than the film itself, and while the sum of these parts failt to carry the film to the level of its golden aspects, there's enough inspiration behind this film to keep you sticking with it, even with all of the low points that ruin much of a promising vision.

Once the end of this journey is reached, the film is left tainted by the excessive bloating that renders the film's focus hazy and its effectiveness diluted, thus creating a disengagement that, when combined with the film's relentless slowness, often creates dullness, if not all-out boredome, and after two-and-a-half hours of this, the final product is left falling very short of what it could have been and as underwhelming, yet not to where it can't still catch your eye with its fine cinematography, while your investment goes caught by the strong story, brought to life by strong writing by L.M. Kit Carson and Sam Shepard, as well as by a compelling lead performance by Harry Dean Stanton, thus creating high points that may not be enough to dismiss underwhelmingness - spawned from Wim Wenders' many missteps -, yet remain enough to make "Paris, Texas" a generally enjoyable and consistently watchable dramatic piece that may not live up to potential, let alone hope, but ultimately gets you by.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2012
Wenders' cinematography is stunning and it is a great feat considering how much he fits into his frame in terms of the variety and assortment of colours and objects in there.
Super Reviewer
½ September 14, 2011
"Paris, Texas" is another masterfully filmed and beautifully artistic film by the legendary Director Wim Wenders! The cinematography is immaculate and captivating throughout the film, especially in the expansive shots of the Texas desert. The story is personal and the characters are layered and likable as well as troubled and emotionally hurting. The whole story is captivating and so intimately captured on film, it's shocking it's a script and not just a real experience by ordinary people. While not having as much replay value as an action film or something a little more fast paced, this is certainly a wonderful and well paced film that demands the emotional input of it's viewers. This is an experience that is fascinating and touching and well worth your time as it's competently filmed and executed by it's great cast!
Super Reviewer
½ February 21, 2009
Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell are two terribly underrated actors who are given great roles in this film. It was written by Sam Shepard who once again explores a strange and complicated relationship between father and son. The film moves very slowly to a magnificent conclusion. It's a remarkably strong film that owes a lot of credit to the director Wim Wenders who seems to really understand the themes of Sam Shepard and translates them well to the big screen.
Super Reviewer
½ March 1, 2012
Like its protagonist, "Paris, Texas" is quiet, shy, and well-meaning. It's a beautiful little film with a fair of share of both funny and heartbreaking scenes. Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, and Nastassja Kinski give wonderful performances.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
August 17, 2010
It's a very slow picture but at the same time it's not boring. The last quarter of the picture is mesmerizing thanks to the great performances by Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski.
Francisco G.
Super Reviewer
August 31, 2011
One of my favorite movies ever. It's dreamlike mood, haunting performances and simple questions of what's our role in all this is handled with such simplicity and grace from Wenders, it's hard not to fall for Paris, Texas.
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