Title: This Must Be the Place
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Here’s one for you: A quiet retired glam/gothic rocker, who still dresses the part every day, leaves his estate in Dublin for the United States; to fulfill his dying Jewish father’s legacy in finding the Nazi officer who tormented him during the Holocaust.
You’re interested right?
This Must Be the Place is a half character study, half road/finding yourself journey. In the first part of the 118 minutes, the audience receives a solid dose of Cheyenne (Sean Penn looking like Marilyn Manson and Ozzy Osbourne had a kid). After a successful rock stardom career about twenty years ago, the guy is content living at home, monitoring his stock investments, and yapping with his firefighter wife (Frances McDormand). When he does venture out of the house, he hangs with a late-teens/early twenties gothic girl named Mary (Eve Hewson) at a local mall. And that’s basically his life these days.
Until he gets word from overseas that his father is on his deathbed.
Cheyenne, who hasn’t spoken to his father in thirty years, is compelled to head over to the states, and when he nervously does, he treks across the rural parts of the country trying to locate the old Nazi officer via tips from his father’s trusted no-nonsense “investigator” (Judd Hirsch).
This lives and dies on Penn’s performance as a soft-spoken rocker drenched in outlandish dark clothing with some quirky mannerisms (ex. Constant blowing away of strands of hair in his face). He still wears lipstick, eyeliner, and has that huge ‘80s teased jet-black hair. And while that may appear intimidating, he strolls around everywhere with a small personal shopping cart. So without saying and doing much physically, the character engages one right away.
When he arrives in America, and has interactions with approaching people from all walks-of-life, his responses are measured, intelligent, and subtly funny. The guy doesn’t coast on his past glories and pretty much lives in familiar/repetitive moments with small agendas (i.e. trying to hook his gothic friend Mary up with a dorky mall employee that he is fond of). However, he does latch onto certain elements from his past; that he more-or-less feels responsible or perhaps even guilty for.
These trivial scenes, the majority on display early on, are used to paint a picture of the guy prior to him doing his cross-country search and experiencing things outside of his proverbial bubble.
Basically, the direction of this intriguing story was to just place Penn’s character in nominal situations and watch the quiet show; which ends up speaking volumes at timely moments.
Overall, This Must Be the Place is comparable to one of those 12 minute songs a band would write that remain steady, but are also laced with subtle doses of catchy personality.
Acting: A (mainly for Sean Penn’s focus)