Don't Come Knocking Wim Wenders

You want to hope that sometimes people can make it back. Specifically, you hope that the once great Wim Wenders can turn around his losing streak and make a film that matters again. And armed with a collaborator like Sam Shepard, with whom he made his masterpiece Paris, Texas, you get your hopes up that this time somebody might be driving the train. But Don’t Come Knocking has precious little of that earlier film’s cogency or beauty and too much of a storyline that rightly belongs to a George Strait lyric.

Shepard assays the role of Howard Spence, an over-the-hill movie star who wanders away from his latest movie for a little peace and quiet. But he learns from his mother (Eva Marie Saint) that he fathered an illegitimate son that he never knew, sending him farther across country to find an old girlfriend (Jessica Lange) who can help him make amends.

The plot is old enough to be performed with masks at Pompeii, and Wenders’ critical eye is nowhere to be found; he’s become so wrapped up in the process of becoming irrelevant that he’s lost the ability to reverse it. Don’t Come Knocking is a noncommittal film that says reconciliation is impossible and that it shouldn’t be tried, which might have had some heat if it hadn’t been played entirely from Shepard/Spence’s point of view and maybe explored externally.

A few Edward Hopper-ish backgrounds soften the pain somewhat, but there’s no denying the solipsism he used to critique has suddenly taken over the whole movie. That this is a far cry from the analytical fireworks Wenders used to shoot is sad indeed, though it does offer the image of an angry character throwing every single possession he owns out the window. (Mongrel Media)