Don't Come Knocking
Dir. Wim Wenders. 2005. R. 122mins. Sam Shepard,
Jessica Lange, Tim Roth,
Sarah Polley, Eva Marie Saint, Gabriel Mann.
Back when he made films like The American Friend (1977) and The State of Things (1982), we thought our love for German director Wenders would never die. But he started to lose us with Paris, Texas (1984), and pretty much every feature he’s made since Wings of Desire (1987) has struck us as cinematic chloroform. So we were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed this languorous, oddball drama, which Wenders co-wrote with his Paris collaborator Shepard.
Set, like Paris, in a slightly Martian version of present-day America, Knocking stars Shepard as Howard Spence, the leathery star of bizarrely old-fashioned Westerns. An incorrigible bad boy and epic consumer of drink, drugs and women, Spence goes AWOL from a film shoot to visit his saintly mother (Saint), whom he hasn’t seen in decades. He learns from her that he has a grown child from a passing liaison with a small-town waitress (Lange), and before you can say Broken Flowers he’s off on an existential quest to find himself via his lost family. Meanwhile, a cold-eyed fixer for the studio (Roth, doing his lizardy thing) is hot on Spence’s trail, determined to capture him and return him to the set.
Not a whole lot happens in Knocking, and nothing that you wouldn’t expect, but it’s well acted, nice to look at, and intermittently funny and affecting.—Cliff Doerksen