"You just... disappeared. And now I'm working here. I hear your voice all the time. Every man has your voice"
Four years after going missing Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) walks out of the vast
desert. After collapsing in a saloon a doctor treats him and discovers his
brother’s business card in his wallet. Travis’ brother Walt (Dean Stockwell)
to meet his brother and has many questions for him. Travis appears to be mute
however and doesn’t eat, sleep or talk for days. When he finally opens his
mouth it is revealed that he remembers little about the last four years. Dean
takes Travis back to his Texas
home where he and his wife Anne (Aurore Clement) have been looking after Travis’
seven year old son Hunter (Hunter Carson) since Travis’ wife Jane (Nastassja Kinski)
left him with them and disappeared herself. Travis has to try and re-assimilate
himself back into every day life and reconnect with his young son before
setting out to try and find his estranged wife. L.A.
In many ways this film reminded me of director Wim Wenders 1976 film Kings of the Road. Both films take place mostly on the road in quiet, almost desolate places with two characters who barely know each other. This film is more about the family unit and loss but is equally as good. The film won the Palme d’Or at
as well as
numerous other prizes and it’s fantastic. Cannes
The story is tremendous. It was written by noted playwright/actor Sam Shepard and is a wonderful tale of isolation, loss and redemption. It unfolds at an incredibly slow pace by modern standards but is thoroughly gripping, divulging enough to keep you on tenterhooks but never telling you everything. I was completely gripped the whole way through. As well as a great plot the films other standout feature is its score which is performed on the slide guitar by Ry Cooper. It is haunting and repetitive but in a good way. It worked very well with the plot and the on screen visuals which were also exemplary. Frequent Wenders cinematographer Robby Muller creates some stunning sights of wide open, desolate vistas and intricate and interesting internal shots of bars, motels and houses. Some of the shots seem to last for minutes but that is part of what makes it so beautiful. The film is a joy to look at.
On the acting side the film is once again terrific. Harry Dean Stanton is superb when playing the mute in early scenes but becomes more vocal as the film progresses. His performance overall was brilliant. His son, played by Hunter Carson was also excellent in his first film role, although he looked unnervingly like a young Jodie Foster. Supporting actors Dean Stockwell, Aurore Clement and especially Nastassja Kinski were also without fault.
This is a film which might not appeal to everyone due to its slow nature but I loved it. I was mesmerised by the long, single camera shots in which the dialogue just went on and on and the cinematography was breathtaking. This isn’t far off a perfect film and one that I’d recommend to anyone as long as their favourite film wasn’t Transformers 2.