This Must be the Place

28 Apr

Cheyenne (played by Sean Penn) is a former rock star who’s had a pretty great life. He’s performed with the likes of David Byrne and Mick Jagger and has had a string of hit songs. But … that was all a while ago and Cheyenne now lives in Dublin with his wife of 35 years, Jane (by Frances McDormand). He’s pretty well set up … his massive designer house has all the modern gadgetry and they still live on the income from his music royalties. Cheyenne and Jane have always been a strong unit, there is no tension there – so he spends his days trying to find things to keep himself occupied. Now 50, Cheyenne’s usual dress is his favoured, once-popular ‘Goth’ style (big dark hair, pale skin, black eye make-up and lipstick). Life in Dublin has gone along as usual, until Cheyenne gets news that his father, from whom he has been estranged for decades, is dying in America. Cheyenne returns to his hometown and finds that his father, haunted by memories of an officer who tormented him during the Holocaust, has spent most of his years trying to find the Nazi responsible. Cheyenne decides to continue the search …

This movie really had to work hard to keep me watching, but I’m not sure why. There are aspects of it that are really great. Sean Penn is always strong and his performance here is remarkable. Cheyenne is such a gentle soul who exudes innocence and a low level of intelligence – but he’s actually neither, he’s quite worldly wise but probably mentally incapacitated as a result of his drug-riddled rock star past. He is reticent, he uses words with paucity and for this reason people constantly mis-judge him. But by the same token, he does behave completely eccentrically. Once again, this movie is billed as a comedy and whilst I could recognise where the comedy was, I found it more intense and sad than funny. I frequently had to remind myself that I wasn’t watching a Cohen Brothers or David Lynch movie, as the director has certainly modelled this production on that style. Both Judd Hirsch and Frances McDormand provide welcome relief and there are great scenes with David Byrne (from Talking Heads) and Harry Dean Stanton. In 2011, Paolo Sorrentino won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. It is nothing, if not original.

Made in 2011. Directed by Paolo Sorrentino

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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Movies


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