Thursday, June 24, 2010

On Paris, Texas

Finding a movie boring after longing to watch it for months is indeed a frustrating experience. Such was my state of mind, when I had to sit through the 2 hours and 20 minutes of Paris, Texas. It had been suggested to me by my trainer at a filmmaking course. I had fought with salesmen in most of the famous DVD stores of Mumbai having been told umpteenth number of times, “No sir, we don’t have it and we haven’t even heard of it”. So obviously when Ranjit messaged me that he has downloaded Paris, Texas from torrent, I was really happy.

Lets start with the story. For those who dislike people revealing the story, I think it doesn’t matter in this case. It starts with a man in mid 40s walking aimlessly in a desert somewhere in South Texas. From his appearance, you can make out that it’s been more than a while that this fellow has been roaming in wilderness. Someone informs his brother, who comes up and takes him back to Los Angeles. It turns out that this fellow had left his home some four years back after a troubled relationship with his wife. His wife couldn’t bring up their son on her own, so she left him in the care of this guy’s brother and his wife. Four years have lapsed since then and the kid is now ten years old. He obviously can’t take his father for his father upon his return. But soon the non-existent bond between the father and the son develops. They flee from the house in search of the kid’s mother. They find her in circumstances, which are the only pulse-racing moments of this otherwise staid film.

Coming back to why didn’t I like it. One, for its sheer length. I think it shouldn’t have been even a second more than 90 minutes. In ethereal films, length is the most important factor. Two, apart from the end, the most important part of the film is how the kid accepts his real father and leaves those whom until yesterday were his parents. There is not a single scene, which explore this. How on earth can we expect a kid, who is staying with his parents in a superb bungalow in Los Angeles, leave everything for a father, who he is sure is somewhere close to a nomad. My understanding of things is: Kids are really selfish, for they love themselves the most and are yet to understand the importance to reciprocate.

Imagine this scene. The duo of father and kid are in search of his mother. They are staying in a hotel room. The father has found the mother and he is finally going to tell her about the whereabouts of the kid. But he thinks that he still can’t bridge the gap with her so he chooses to go out of their life. He records a message for the kid. Sitting alone in a hotel’s room, which is overlooking a plethora of steel structures and is entirely devoid of intimacy, the kid is listening to that message. There is absolutely no change in his facial expressions. From the exterior, he is as normal as he was in the bedroom of his home in LA. How can we expect that the lack of intimacy (at such a young age) and an emotionally disturbing message are having no visible impact on the kid?

I cannot convince myself that this is even a good film let alone being a great one. I think the writer and the director understood the psyche of escapist father and husband well enough, for it is easy to think like an adult. However, they completely failed to understand the psyche of a kid.


Ranjit said...

guess, u've seen the movie in a hurry! or perhaps the movie asked too much of ur patience.

first, the kid is 7 yrs old and not 10 when the his real father returns after 4 yrs of wandering.

second, the kid doesn't leave his uncle and aunt (and their luxurious home!) forever. he just wants to be with his real father when the real father is searching for the real mother. this is shwon as a curiousity of the kid to see whether his mother looks the way she used to look in a family video shot before the break-up of the family. that's the only memory the kid has of his mother. the kid says that he just doesn't remember his mother except for that video.

so, the kid is just curious. there is no hint of him leaving the home forever with his nomaidc father. it's more of a short-term project. this is clear from his telephonic chat with his second mother (he says he is out with his father and will be back soon, so not to worry)

third: about the kid's emotions. the kid is not 10 yrs old as u thought. he is 7. in the West, may be due to the way they r brought up, kids may not exhibit emotions the way we see kids in India doing. i'v seen this in some cases during my trip abroad. even toddlers wud appear to be in their own world. they don't complain or crib to their parents for a free ride (which is a common show in India). so, u may not expect the kind of reaction from a Western kid the same way u wud expect from an Indian kid to see his father leaving him. also, the father assures in the recorded speech tht he is bringing the kid's real mother who would meet the kid in the hotel room. that may also provide assurance to the kid even if he is supposed to feel sad.

so, dat's my analysis on top of ur analysis! sorry for the long copy...

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