Film Review: This Must Be The Place

| 5 April , 2012 | Reply

Directed by: Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Eve Hewson, Judd Hirsh
Sassi\’s Star Rating: 3.5/5

Sean Penn dons his best Robert Smith Halloween costume for Italian director Paolo Sorrentino\’s great American road trip with a twist; This Must Be The Place.

Watching this film is a little like looking into a crystal ball filled with Russell Brand\’s future. An abundance of eyeliner and lipstick adorn the aging face of one of this decade\’s more recognised faces in a way you wouldn\’t think could work, until you see it. Penn is Cheyenne, the once famous glam goth rocker hiding out in suburban Dublin. Confined by his social anxiety, naive childishness and borderline depression, he meanders around the grounds of his oversized mansion without any purpose.

When he receives news that his father is dying, Cheyenne (who won\’t fly) embarks on a boat-trip back to New York, and back to the traditional Jewish family he hasn\’t seen in decades. Though having never felt loved by his father, the discovery that he spent his last years tracking down the SS guard who humiliated him at Auschwitz, spurs Cheyenne to continue his search.  Finding out that Aloise Lange may be alive and living in the US, Cheyenne embarks on a cross country road trip to find him, meeting a spate of characters along the way.

Aesthetically this film is stunning, and if you\’re like me, you will have snapshots of images and scenes that still creep into your head weeks after watching. Part comedy, part drama, part soul searching odyssey; it\’s hard to put this film in a box. This Must Be The Place has a lot to say if you want to hear it, though it is perhaps too intangible to really get it all across on first viewing.

Penn is interesting as a character so far removed from expectations, while Frances McDormand is wonderful as Cheyenne\’s no nonsense wife Jane. Apparently Sorrentino wrote a letter to McDormand saying that if she refused the part he would turn Cheyenne into a bachelor or a widower, because there was no one else he could imagine playing the part. Luckily, she listened: because her well tuned performance keeps this film rolling through Cheyenne\’s often maddening idleness.

For an interesting film that will abandon your expectations, This Must Be The Place is in cinemas now.

P.S For fans of Talking Heads this is a must see; David Byrne has co-written the soundtrack, and even performs the entire title track ‘This Must Be The Place\’ in the film.


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