Tense and gripping, “The American Friend” does lose momentum as it mutates into an eccentric buddy film. In a way, Jonathan’s tenuous alliance with Ripley presages Mr. Wenders’s own Faustian pact with Hollywood. “The American Friend” let him relocate to the United States. After a decade laboring on international, mainly English-language productions, he went home to make “Wings of Desire,” the echt German movie that, along with “Kings of the Road,” now seems his most substantial.
February 12, 2016