This Must Be the Place (2011) Directed by Paul Sorrentino. With Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Harry Dean Stanton, Judd Hirsch, Kerry Condon, Joyce Van Patten, Eve Hewson.
Writer/director Paul Sorrentino’s ‘This Must Be the Place’ is a fascinatingly peculiar drama that through a daring performance from Sean Penn as retired pop star Cheyenne, infuses a mix of offbeat humour and emotional resonance to quite brilliant affect.
Penn’s larger than life portrayal is made all the more unusual given that the tone of his performance is, save for the odd explosion, dialled back to little more than mousy mutterings. Appearing like a blend of Siouxsie and the Banshees meets Robert Smith of ‘The Cure’, Cheyenne is a tortured artist seemingly wandering through life in an aimless fashion until he learns of his estranged father’s death. What then ensues is something of a road movie in which Cheyenne picks up the trail of a Nazi war criminal his late father was attempting to track.
It all sounds like a film you wouldn’t come to easily, but there’s a lot going on here, not least of which the impressive soundtrack which centres on the ‘Talking Heads’ song of the same name ‘This Must Be the Place’. Supporting Penn is the divine talent of Frances McDormand and an agreeably grouchy Judd Hirsch along with the forever baseball capped Harry Dean Stanton.
From the loving composition of the photography to the beautiful screenplay, Sorrentino’s film is both poetic and transcendent. Like any good road movie, the journey is defined as much by the characters we meet along the way as it is by the vivid beauty of the surrounding nature. Moving stuff. 4.5/5