After four years' absence, a social dropout reappears in l.a. to claim his abandoned son and then heads for texas to reunite the boy with his mother.
Something like a perfect artistic union is achieved in the major components of Paris, Texas: the twang of Ry Cooder's guitar, the lonely light of Robbie Muller's camera, the craggy landscape of Harry Dean Stanton's face. In his greatest role, longtime character actor Stanton plays a man brought back to his old life after wandering in the desert (or somewhere) for four years. He has a 7-year-old son to get to know, and his wife has gone missing. The material is much in the wanderlust spirit of director Wim Wenders, working from a script by Sam Shepard and L.M. Kit Carson. If the long climactic conversation between Stanton and Nastassja Kinski renders the movie uneven and slightly inscrutable, it's hard to think of a more fitting ending--and besides, the achingly empty American spaces stick longer in the memory than the dialogue. Winner of the top prize at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival. --Robert Horton