Don’t Come Knocking – Review

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Howard (Sam Shepard) is the Clint Eastwood of his world – a huge movie star, much-loved for his cowboy roles, and now in his twilight years.

The difference is that while Clint Eastwood goes on and on and from strength to strength, Howard is tired and fed up – so fed up that he flees a film-set half way through a shoot and seeks solace where every lost little boy goes – in the arms of his mum (Eva Marie Saint).

Over coffee, she happens to mention something about a son he never even knew he had.

Suddenly, his life has new meaning, as he heads off in search of his past.

But there’s a little matter of the film company’s insurers, wanting to get the production finished, dispatching a well-mannered bounty-hunter (Roth) to find him.


Taking the big Hollywood star to a one-horse town (fish-out of water) and going in search of the son you never knew you had (much-needed voyage of self-discovery) are hardly the most original genres in the movies.

Strong performances from Shepard and Lange help to keep the interest – as does Wenders’ vision of a lost man struggling to find himself.

But there’s a sense in which it’s difficult to know how to take this film – many of the smaller characters just don’t ring true or seem pointlessly, even stereotypically irritating.

The main premise of the film takes more than a pinch of salt to accept – the idea of someone just picking up in the middle of a film shoot is unlikely – surely he’d be more likely to take a break after the film or if he felt so pained, he wouldn’t have started the shoot in the first place.

Also, the whole storyline revolving around Roth’s insurance suit fails to convince – he never has to think – seeing him just turn up as necessary to nudge the story forward takes any sense of adventure out of the whole strand. Humorous as he is, it’s a whole sub-plot you can’t get your teeth into in any satisfying way.

The denouement too leaves you rather cold – OK, so he meets his offspring, but how does that really change him in the long run?

Bursting with all the hallmarks of a satisfying, independent picture, it looks and feels like a much better film than it is.

It’s a fun journey, nowhere in particular.