Thursday, 18 October 2012

Paris, Texas

The pace is slow going at first, but the drama is dynamite.An ultimately uplifting story of a man's quest to restore his broken family.

Oh, it says heartbreaker on that poster. There's a few ways you could read it, I guess.

You can also get it in formats other than videocassette nowadays.

Enough stalling, here's what this movie is about: a man is wandering through the desert in Texas, and runs out of water. When he makes it to a salon he manages to swallow a mouthful of ice before collapsing.

The mans name is Travis, we learn when Walt, his brother, comes to pick him up. Travis has been missing for four years, and has an 8 year old son now in the care of Walt and his wife Anne. Travis has amnesia, but slowly begins to remember his life before he went missing (though exactly where he went and what he did remains a mystery). He begins to develop a fresh relationship with his son, Hunter, a bright kid with an adorable charisma about him. Hunter's plans are equal parts childish and silly, and mature and useful. He functions as a kind of therapy for Travis, drawing him back to sanity after his bizarre long absence. Slowly, Travis becomes more and more fatherly to his own son.

Eventually, Travis decides that he needs to search out his wife, Jane. Walt and Anne still don't know what happened between Travis and Jane, or why the pair both went missing separately. I don't want to spoil the second half of the movie, because it's brilliant. Although the first half can drag at times, it builds to a powerful sequence in Houston, Texas, and a thouroughly satisfying conclusion.

The title; Paris, Texas, is a running 'joke' of the film. Inverted commas, because for Travis it's much more serious than a joke. His mother was from a town called Paris in the state of Texas, and his father would always hesitate before the word Texas; allowing them temporarily to believe his wife was French. It speaks to a broader motif of the film; of imagery, facades and deception. Walt's business is billboard construction, his wife is actually French, and the most apparently perfect character in the film. The town itself is never visited, only shown in a photograph... of an empty block.

It's a deeply layered film, its message delivered in the subtleties of the film making. It's beautifully shot, with characters who are well acted, but more noticeably well fleshed out. Every person in the film seems to act entirely within reason, and you can fully comprehend exactly why they act the way they do. None of this Hollywood villain crap; just real people, with real issues.

Alright, there are some pretty crazy issues, but they all seem to be in the past. What I took away from the film is the impression of a man who has made mistakes, and is trying to bring his family back together. To do so he must break the facades - or run away from them if necessary. His love for his son is evident in the lengths he goes to deliver him a good life; I found their relationship sweet and invigorating to watch (despite some sad moments).

Paris, Texas takes its time, but delivers with some extraordinary answers to its plaguing mysteries. There's a lot you could take away from it, but by the end of it, I was happy.

Seen Paris, Texas? Want to? Won't?
Leave a comment, start a discussion :)