DON'T COME KNOCKING (Wim Wenders). 122 minutes. Opens Friday (April 21). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: N Rating: N
The real thrill in Wim Wenders 's best films comes from just how vacant they are. The plots are like prairies.
But that attraction to the loose and airy sometimes gets him lost. A lot of recent Wenders films -- Faraway So Close To The End Of The Million Dollar Hotel Of Violence comes to mind -- have the effect of having no effect whatsoever. Tack on Don't Come Knocking .
Based on a script by Sam Shepard , who also co-wrote Paris, Texas, this is a slim story of a whoring, substance-abusing movie star (Shepard) who suddenly decides to seek out his mother ( Eva Marie Saint ). Mom is pretty vacant herself, but sets him on a quest for a child he never knew he had.
So in Butte, Montana, Shepard's character squints and smokes as Jessica Lange and Gabriel Mann , playing his estranged son, rage at him against the big sky. Sarah Polley , making the wisest decision in this movie, mostly just carries around a blue urn bearing her mother's ashes and looks off into the middle distance.
Don't Come Knocking is nothing but stark surfaces. The town makes Edward Hopper's paintings look busy, and the dialogue is reduced to efficient, American clichés. If you described Paris, Texas to a pretentious student filmmaker and asked him to make a sequel, it might turn out like Don't Come Knocking.