Paolo Sorrentino’s English language debut is a funny little film – I wasn’t really sure what to make of it though I did undoubtedly enjoy it a lot. It’s got a hilarious central performance from Sean Penn as ageing goth rocker Cheyenne, doing a slightly OTT campy stint as a faded star clinging on to the outer shell of 80s success – he’s very funny in parts and completely endearing.
In a lot of ways it’s a classic coming of age drama, although it’s a rather delayed coming of age for Cheyenne whose relationship with his strict Jewish family stalled when he started wearing lipstick and eyeliner. He’s now living in Dublin and happily married to a firefighter, played brilliantly by Frances McDormand who should really have been in much more of the film, it works best when she’s the adult to Cheyenne’s sulky teenager.
The film takes a bit of a strange turn when Cheyenne’s father is taken ill and he heads back to the US, arriving just too late to make his peace. He makes amends by going on a bizarre road trip in search of a Nazi who tortured his father in the war, taking along Judd Hirsch as some sort of Dog the Nazi Hunter – which he plays with real relish. It’s sensitively done, but from here, it’s a bit of a confusing and not entirely satisfying tale, enlivened briefly by an appearance from Harry Dean Stanton. The climax, when Nazi and Cheyenne come face to face, is strangely unemotional.
By far the best thing about This Must Be The Place – by a country mile in fact – is the appearance of David Byrne performing the title song – fabulous. Worth the ticket price alone. So as a film it’s not perfect, but as I said at the beginning, I did enjoy it, it’s got some laughs and some great performances so highly watchable.