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Don't Come Knocking

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Jan
Don't Come Knocking
from Film Forum, 04/13/06
Don't Come Knockingstarts with the reunion of two artists whose last collaboration resulted in a classic—actor/writer Sam Shepard and director Wim Wenders, who two teamed up to craft Paris, Texas in 1986. And here, once again, they deliver a memorable story of a man searching for redemption.

Shepard brings rough authenticity to both the script and his performance in the lead role of Howard Spence, a big screen star of Westerns who decides to run away from a movie set in order to try and salvage the closest thing to a family he ever had. Wenders' contribution is to reveal the invisible workings of the Spirit in these lives—through observant camerawork, meditative pacing, and an intuitive grasp of how this rugged landscape represents desolate spiritual territory.

Wenders, a Christian, has been giving attentive cinephiles "eyes to see and ears to hear" for almost three decades of filmmaking. At Christianity Today Movies, I offer a look at this new project, reflect on Wenders' career of intriguing films, and share some of my recent conversation with him. (An extended version is posted at Looking Closer.)

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) isn't as enthusiastic. "Wenders is an accomplished filmmaker, of course, and he adds his artful cinematic vision to the familiar Shepard territory. … Shepard's themes of myth versus reality of the American West, the pitfalls of fame, the human capacity for violence, broken families, loneliness and loss have frankly been better handled in his stage work." And he concludes, "Overall, there's a stilted, artificial quality to the story, and most of the performances never quite ring true."

Even as they express their respect for the talents of these two authoritative artists, mainstream critics are divided over this project.