Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. France/Germany/USA, 2005. Reverse Angle Pictures, Reverse Angle International, Arte France Cinema, EuroArts Medien AG, Network movie Film-und Fernsehproduktion, Océan Films,Recorded Picture Company, Road Movies Filmproduktion, Sony Pictures Classics, ZDF/Arte, Wim Wenders Stiftung. Story by Wim Wenders, Sam Shepard, Screenplay by Sam Shepard. Cinematography by Franz Lustig. Produced by Karsten Brunig, In-Ah Lee, Peter Schwartzkopff. Music by T Bone Burnett. Production Design by Nathan Amondson. Costume Design by Caroline Eselin. Film Editing by Peter Przygodda, Oli Weiss. Cannes Film Festival 2005.
Sam Shepard and Wim Wenders reunite for the first time since Paris, Texas for a film that has all the same trappings as that marvelous melodrama but none of its substance or heart. Shepard plays a once-famous, now obscure cowboy film star who walks straight off the set of his latest forgettable project and drives across America’s heartland in his car. With an insurance agent (Tim Roth, in an incongruously uncomfortable role) and a daughter he does not know (Sarah Polley) on his tail, Shepard heads to the woman (Jessica Lange) he’d left alone and pregnant years before and discovers that he has a son (Gabriel Mann) he was also unaware of. Eva Marie Saint has a couple of memorable scenes as his mother, but for some reason nothing sticks in this one; it has everything that should make it a haunting, gorgeous classic, but it also has a pretentious self-awareness so strong that even the panoramic vistas seem to be announcing themselves as metaphors for the protagonist’s inner life; it’s as if it were written and directed not by a filmmaker but by the academic doing his thesis on the filmmaker. Watch it, if you must, for the performances, because they’re all great.