Paris, Texas title image
, , , , ,
147 min.
Release Date
Paris, Texas poster

After walking through desolate valleys, driving across empty highways, and navigating the claustrophobic indifference of Houston’s skyscrapers, the long journey in Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas reaches its destination in a peep show called The Keyhole Club. Inside, a husband and wife, estranged for several years, sit opposite each other, separated by a one-way mirror. They talk by phone in a scene recalling a visitor to a prison. But it’s not the wife, the object of the peep show, in prison; it’s the husband, whose failure to process his wife’s autonomy sent him spiraling. Wenders shoots the husband’s distanced, third-person retelling of the marriage’s explosion in a long, eviscerating monologue, aided by the poetry of Sam Shepard’s words, exquisite composition by cinematographer Robby Müller, and a career-best performance by Harry Dean Stanton. Part confession, part apology, the speech supplies an overwhelming emotional release after two hours of silence, pain, and searching. With the film earning Wenders notoriety that elevated his status as an international auteur, including the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984, Paris, Texas goes beyond the wandering, existential uncertainties and unresolved tensions of the director’s career to this point. It transcends his usual road movie archetypes and pressing alienation, and it enters the realm of an almost mythic quest for healing and reconciliation after the emotional fallout of masculine violence.

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