Sam Shepard pulls double duty as writer and star and excels at both. His Howard Spence is a cold and cut-off character, but somehow you end up rooting for the guy by virtue of Shepard’s weathered charisma. Additionally there’s a pretty ridiculous supporting cast including Jessica Lange, Sarah Polley, Tim Roth, Fairuza Balk, Gabriel Mann and neo-“Ma Kent” Eva Marie Saint. Each performer gets their chance to shine in a memorable interaction with Shepard, especially Lange and Saint. With such a large group of actors though, you also run the risk of not spending enough time with each character. Mainly, Tim Roth’s insurance investigator is criminally underutilized, especially since his few scenes hint at a very interesting individual.
While it couldn’t be more different in tone or execution, DON’T COME KNOCKING unfortunately suffers a bit from coming out after another slow paced movie with a similar plotline by a different eclectic director. I’m talking of course about Jim Jarmusch’s BROKEN FLOWERS. It’s difficult not to compare the two and in the shadow of the other, KNOCKING isn’t quite as successful. While I like that neither film was depressingly serious, especially given the subject matter, with this one I wasn’t sure how to take some of the less serious characterizations. Spence’s son comes off as a whiny douche for no reason, and it might be humorous but it also borders on near-cheesiness. Finally, like BROKEN FLOWERS, DON’T COME KNOCKING doesn’t have a nice and tidy resolution. With FLOWERS it made you ponder your own life compared to Bill Murray’s. With KNOCKING it leaves you grasping at the point of it all.
Commentary by Director Wim Wenders: “I really hate to talk while you watch my movie…” Wenders shoots straight from the hip; no BS. His no nonsense tone was refreshing from the typical “sucking-up” track. Wenders tells you exactly what you need to know and if you don’t listen he might punch you in the face and take your lunch money.
New York Premiere Featurette (18:22): Thankfully a little bit of the red carpet stuff and more a Q&A with Wenders and stars Jessica Lange and Gabriel Mann. Like the commentary, Wenders is funny and charismatic and the whole thing is pretty informative/ entertaining. Plus, you have to check out Wenders’ outfit; only a European dude can get away with that and not look like a tool.
Sundance Featurette (12:08): More interviews, Q&A, and people looking cold out in the snow.
Interview with Wim Wenders and Eva Marie Saint (4:59): Short and sweet, the pair have some good banter back and forth. Nice to see Ms. Saint making a mini-comeback recently.
Previews for other assorted indie fare.
Little Known Fact: Bono and The Edge from U2 volunteered to write the title song for DON'T COME KNOCKING without even being asked.