This must be the place (2011)

Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch .UK/Ireland/USA. 1h 58m

Italian director Paolo Sorrentino emerges with some triumph as one of the masters of modern cinema with this English Language film This Must be the Place, starring Sean Penn as a Robert Smith inspired aged rock star Cheyenne. Retirement doesn’t bring as much action as the rocker passes his time living a non existent life in Dublin spending his days alone in his mansion or with his best friend Mary (Hewson) while his American wife (McDormand) is content with her job as a firefighter.

The approach is superbly elegant and has a mix of looming camera movements and bursts of dynamic action mixed with Penns dry humor that sinks into a hallucinatory landscape, which at points is so massive swallows up the characters.

A former rock star is hunting down a Nazi criminal…This could be his greatest hit.

Sean Penn is quirky and really funny as Cheyenne, dressed as Robert Smith and a name that reflects Siouxsie Sioux, his voice is a quivering Truman Capote meets Andy Bell, but sitting around his grandeur debating what share to sell and raking in the royalties comes to an end when his father dies and he feels the calling to carry on the family work, of tracking down Nazi’s, especially one who persecuted his father in Auschwitz. So he makes the laborious pilgrimage to America to reunite with his Jewish family and then quickly transforms from Rock Star to Nazi Hunter.

Sorrentino, combines his adoration for The Cure and his personal fascination with the Nazi war criminals who somehow switched off and just fled into new countries to live normal lives. While varied interests should be encouraged, writing them together into such a thoughtful and well handled film is something extraordinary.

Penn is amazing in his role and surrounded by very talented actors, Sorrentino even managed to get David Bryne in on the soundtrack and somehow in front of the camera, something this rare is worth any film fanatics.

At every turn along this comedic and deadly serious road trip, Cheyenne slowly transitions into a new harder man, without shaking off his fertility he really does grow a harder shell, along with the film, it managed to simultaneously be heavy and light hearted, as the dynamic duo have to quick think their way out of some pretty dangerous situations.

I do wonder what the movie would be like without tha Holocaust material, does it really need to go that far to drive the coming of old age narrative, but it’s such a poignant stand to make and it’s perfectly presented in this light playful way.

Rating: 7/10

R: The Family Friend (2006), Sid and Nancy (1986), The Consequences of Love (2004)
L: Dublin Movies, Coming of Age, Road Trip,
5s: Sean Penn

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