Land of Plenty

Land of Plenty

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Wim Wenders wants a 25th Hour to call his own, and for Land of Plenty he splices the story of a young girl recently arrived from Tel Aviv and her paranoiac uncle into a montage of music-video-styled American anomie. Once a purveyor of Germany’s post-war existential mess, Wenders is now content wandering the American heartland with his iPod and camera-as-divining-rod, looking for a thematic purpose to anchor his groggy, music-infused aesthetic. Paris, Texas with a post-9/11 context, Land of Plenty is your typical Wenders doodle, except its meaning is now explicitly rubbed in our faces. A Vietnam vet still suffering from the effects of Agent Pink, Paul (John Diehl) wears his patriotism like a tragic-comic placard: the U.S. is his property to defend (“This is my country” goes one of countless variations of the same copyright claim) and the National Anthem serves as his cellphone’s ringtone. Raised abroad most of her life, Lana (Michelle Williams) returns to her homeland looking for Paul but is distracted from her search by the lack of empathy for the impoverished masses on America’s city streets. Hastily conceived and executed between The Soul of a Man and Don’t Come Knocking, Land of Plenty finds in Paul and his absurd obsession with terrorist sleeper cells in Los Angeles a symbol for Dubya and his mad-dog hunt for WMDs. Given the post-Katrina political blame-game that continues to rage on, the film’s idea that the war in Iraq has distracted our government from homeland issues is certainly topical, but Wenders too readily parses the story’s allegories, leaving his audience with little to chew on besides the Leonard Cohen and U2-esque Tom & Nackt songs that fill the soundtrack, which, like the romantic drone of the film’s images, starve for a rationale.

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DVD
Distributor
IFC Films
Runtime
119 min
Rating
NR
Year
2004
Director
Wim Wenders
Screenwriter
Michael Meredith, Wim Wenders
Cast
Michelle Williams, John Diehl, Shaun Toub, Wendell Pierce, Richard Edson, Burt Young, Yuri Elvin, Jeris Poindexter, Rhonda Stubbins White, Bernard White