Don’t Come Knocking

Rated 3.0

Director Wim Wenders and writer Sam Shepard, last together for 1984’s Paris, Texas, revisit their mutually obliging fetishes: the arid, lonesome quest of self; the haunts of family and fatherhood; and the mythologies, both major and minor, of the American West. Shepard plays a burnt-out star of cowboy movies and tabloid headlines who bails on his latest production in the Utah desert to roam the deserts of other states. He visits his estranged mother (Eva Marie Saint) in Nevada and his unexpected son (Gabriel Mann) in Montana, tangling also with an old flame (Jessica Lange) and an apparent daughter (Sarah Polley) who’s been following him around. Some shouting ensues, and the rest is scenery. Between Shepard’s typically elliptical dramatization, Wenders’ detached wonderment, and cinematographer Franz Lustig’s auroral, mirage-like imagery, the movie makes it easy to look past its characters (even the most essential of which seem at times nonessential) and out into its majestic landscapes. That’s not such a bad thing; being able to doze off for a while without missing much sort of validates its aspiration to dreamhood.