The first Wim Wenders film I've seen (Beyond the Clouds doesn't count – it was terrible anyway), and its the craft that is most immediately striking. The pace is on slow burn for most of the picture's running time, but interest is maintained by the central mystery behind the protagonist. The story has already happened, we just don't know it and have to settle for watching the consequences unfold.
Then there is the light. The first shots of the desert are technicolor western pushed to Black Narcissus levels of lushness. The colours of those location shots are postcard perfect. And as Travis slowly returns to civilisation the neon glow seeps in. The final shots of him in the parking lot wreathed in green fluorescent mist, of him driving bathed in tail-light red, felt like all of Refn's Drive compacted into a couple of minutes.
And then there is the actual story, not shown, but narrated, in a setpiece right out of David Lynch's repertoire except this is a couple of years before Blue Velvet. It feels like a confession – Travis and Jane taking turns in the booth. And their stories are not just theirs, but ours: star-crossed lovers, the cowboy, the private eye, the femme fatale, the whore. And buried beneath, a man, woman and child unable to make their family work under the weight of these roles they have to play.