Don't Come Knocking

Everybody has the urge at some point to get up and walk away, leaving all troubles behind. Not many people actually do so. Howard Spence (Sam Shepherd, Stealth, The Notebook) did. Spence is an actor, way past his prime. His specialty was Westerns, and now he is nothing more than tabloid fodder. He drinks, does drugs, and screws hookers. Basically, he doesn't care. Something in him knows this, and he ups and walks away from his latest film, making the short trip to Utah to visit his mother. Spence isn't sure what he's doing or where he's going to end up, but the journey is still compelling in a cathartic manner. Don't Come Knocking is similar. It's a beautiful film to look at, but a bit sparse.

Shepherd, who co-wrote the story with director Wim Wenders (Land of Plenty, The Million Dollar Hotel) tell the story of Spence, looking for something concrete to hold onto. His life for years has been a haze of nothing, and he needs to reconnect. His mother (Eva Marie Saint, Because of Winn-Dixie, I Dreamed of Africa) informs him that he has a son in Butte, Montana, and he journeys there to meet Doreen (Jessica Lange, Broken Flowers, Big Fish), an old girlfriend. Once there, he learns that Doreen is the mother of Earl (Gabriel Mann, A Lot Like Love, The Bourne Supremacy), his son. Sky (Sarah Polley, Dawn of the Dead, My Life Without Me) is a young lady who totes her mother's ashes around and follows Spence. She may or may not be his daughter.

There is a very "western" feel to the way that Wenders and Shepherd structure the film. There are large vistas, long shots, but Shepherd is the main reason to watch it. As Spence, he is completely lost. Once he discovers he has a son, he doesn't know what to do about it. Spence is slowly emerging from the haze of drugs and alcohol, and trying to get his emotional bearings. He is unsure, especially when around all these bizarre people who don't do anything he would expect them to do. Shepherd uses a lot of restraint in his emotions. Spence is a man who doesn't want to be hurt anymore. Doreen is happy he is back, but that's about all. Earl wants nothing to do with him. And Sky just follows him around with an urn. Wenders and Shepherd pace things slowly, which matches the general mood of the film, but things get a bit too slow sometimes. In the end, it feels a bit like Wenders and Shepherd are trying to cram a bit too many eccentricities into the various characters.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
2 hours, 2 minutes, Rated R for language and brief nudity.

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