Using the streets of downtown Los Angeles as a backdrop, Wim Wenders' new film is a darkly humorous and poignant essay on contemporary America.
We see the country from two very different perspectives: Through the eyes of a patriotic and troubled Vietnam veteran on one hand, and from the point of view of a young American woman on the other. A retired Green Beret, Paul is obsessed with protecting the Land of the Free and with doing his part in the ongoing "War Against Terror". He was shot down in combat near Long Thanh at the age of eighteen, and is now experiencing the increasing psychological effects of dioxin poisoning, the result of being exposed to Agent Pink exfoliate more than thirty years ago. The events of 9/11 retriggered his trauma of war and made the ghosts of his past return. But fear is the last thing Paul could admit to himself.
Lana has lived in Africa and Europe for the last ten years and is returning to her home country after a long absence. She intends to go to college, but finds herself involved very soon in a Downtown Mission that is serving the huge homeless community of America's "Hunger Capital". She's an idealist, still trying to define her place in the world. She finds her Christian faith in striking opposition to positions taken by the present administration.
Paul has no friends and has cut all ties with his family. His reclusive existence as a self-declared homeland security officer collapses when Lana enters into it. She is his long forgotten niece, and her uncle the only connection to her mother's family. Paul grudgingly accepts her presence. When they witness the apparently random shooting of a homeless Middle-Eastern man, they decide to investigate this incident together, even if for very different reasons. On this quest for the truth, their different views of the world collide radically. The film is based on the hope that "truth" is not an altogether lost notion in today's political and social realities. Even in America, even in 2003.
Source: German films Service & Marketing GmbH