Travis is a man deserted by life, wandering seemingly aimless along the Texas-Mexican border. Since his wife left him four years previously, she also left their young son, Hunter, with Walt, Travis's brother who lives in Los Angeles. Travis decides its' time he saw his son again and travels to Los Angeles, arriving on a surprised Walt's doorstep. Walt takes him in, realising he wants to bond with Hunter again, but what Walt doesn't know is that Travis is planning to find Jane, Hunter's mother and his estranged wife. Knowing she is working in Houston, he takes Hunter on a trip to once more find her.
Immensly powerful, even if the film's most devoted fans have to agree that it is overlong at two and a half hours, Wim Wender's movie brims over with superb elements, from Harry Dean Stanton's career best performance as the hurt, almost dazed Travis, through Dean Stockwell's fine portrayal of the initially confused Walt and Robby Muller's excellent cinematography. Wender's direction is unobtrusive until the last sequence, where Travis finally finds his wife once more, and in a beautifully executed if overextended scene, Stanton truly rips at the heart with his poignancy. A superb score by guitarist Ry Cooder tops an excellent, if ample, package.