sun 23/06/2024

DVD: This Must Be the Place | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: This Must Be the Place

DVD: This Must Be the Place

Sean Penn makes for a great goth in Sorrentino’s flawed but pertly peculiar road trip

Painting it black: Sean Penn hits the road in 'This Must Be the Place'

Those familiar with Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s elegant political feature Il Divo (2008), or perhaps the beautiful, cynical The Consequences of Love (2004) may find themselves struck (pleasantly) dumb by the direction of his latest. Inspired by Lynch’s The Straight Story, This Must Be the Place takes its name from the Talking Heads track (with David Byrne providing original songs and popping up for a cameo).

This curio sees Sean Penn’s mischievous goth rocker turn Nazi hunter, taking up his dead father’s mantle of revenge.

Penn plays retired rock star Cheyenne, the sartorial twin of The Cure’s Robert Smith, who is despondently living out his days in Dublin with his no-nonsense firefighter wife Jane (a reliably brilliant Frances McDormand). His attempts to match-make his melancholy young friend and fan Mary (Eve Hewson) with likable waiter Desmond (Sam Keeley) are interrupted when Cheyenne is called to attend his father’s funeral (from whom he was estranged). And so he’s drawn into an American adventure, in which he is both thwarted and assisted by seasoned Nazi hunter Mordecai Midler (Judd Hirsch).

Penn isn’t exactly known on or off screen for his sense of humour, so his performance here is something of a revelation. He’s awkward and affected but purposefully so, and has an enjoyably effeminate, genuinely deft comedic delivery. Sorrentino directs with his usual flamboyant style, resisting exposition, and - as with Il Divo - it’s occasionally to the film’s detriment. This Must Be the Place lacks enough sincerity to truly move and the ending is dispiritingly trite. Nevertheless it’s well worth watching, if only to witness Penn’s dirty table tennis tactics, or to see him terrorised by a goose. This Must Be the Place is flawed for sure but a credible cast (which also includes Harry Dean Stanton) and skilfully executed humour carry it joyously through. Adequate extras include deleted and extended scenes and interviews.

Watch the trailer for This Must Be the Place

Penn isn’t exactly known on or off screen for his sense of humour, so his performance here is something of a revelation


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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