What the Hell happened to you? You look like forty miles of rough road
We meet Harry Dean Stanton as Travis in the opening sequence. Desert dust on his suit, drinking from a plastic milk carton, his face hidden from the sun under the peak of a red baseball cap. A man who walked away from his old life never intending to come back. This is a film with a gentle humanity. A finding of lost things. The heartbreaking fall out from love. Ultimately, for Travis, it is life lived at a remove, through the thickness of glass in a one way mirror. If watching this doesn’t move you, you must have misplaced your robot heart.
Wenders tells this story with grace and feeling. Never once does he go for the easy big burst of Hollywood schmaltz (The lovers clinch, the swelling strings.) We sit, instead, uneasily, on the back seat in the family sedan being taken ’home’. The Sam Shepherd script is beautifully sparse. As much is said in the spaces in between the words as is actually spoken. The cinematography lingers. This is a film that has time to watch a drop of rain fall from a motel roof. And then there is Ry Cooder’s haunting score to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
We’ve been meaning to share this at a film club evening for a while. And now we can (a big thank you for support from BFFS, The Riverside, Sheffield Town Trust and Karl Ampofo for making this event possible). A film that burns in the brain, and gets under your skin. Cinema can do many things and at its best, it can do this.