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Don’t Come Knocking (0/10)

by Tony Medley

Concept         D

Story               D

Script              D

Acting             C

Length            D

Pace               F

This is the kind of movie where you have to get up every two or three hours and walk around to get the circulation flowing. I was lucky. I had brought some small candy with me. I rationed them, promising myself one every ten minutes.

Howard Spence (Sam Shepard, who also wrote the script) is a disaffected actor who runs out on a film company to return to Butte, Montana for a little change of scene and to reconnect with an old girl friend, Doreen (Jessica Lange), after his mother (Eva Marie Saint) in Nevada tells him he has a son. Howard had run away from his mother around three decades earlier and she’s not heard a word from him, but she welcomes him with open arms and then doesn’t even shed a tear when he leaves. In fact, she gives him her only car (“I can walk to the store,”) which he takes without a moment’s remorse. Howard is a self involved jerk. But he must inherit it from his mother who takes Howard’s return and redeparture with a lack of emotion that is remarkable.

Lange gives probably the worst performance of her career. Whether it’s due to the banal lines she’s given by Shepard to utter, or the dismal direction (Wim Wenders) she’s committed to follow, or just a failure of talent is hard to tell. This film has all of the above.

All the while Howard is wandering, he is being chased by a private detective, Sutter (Tim Roth), who wants to capture him to bring him back to finish the film. Amazingly, the film company has remained on location throughout the entirety of this film, even without its star.

The soliloquy that his apparent daughter, Sky (Sarah Polley), gives near the end is so bromidic one has to hand it to Ms. Polley for actually mouthing the lines without breaking out in laughter. In the end (and the end does finally come, although one wonders if it will ever get anywhere), who cares?

The original advertised running time was 122 minutes. Someone with common sense must have gotten at it with scissors because it ended at 105 minutes, which was still about 100 minutes too long.

February 15, 2006



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