“Something is not quite right here. I’m not exactly sure what, but something...”
This Must Be The Place is the story of jaded ex-rock star Cheyenne (Sean Penn) who travels from Ireland to America to see his dying father.
Estranged for 30 years, Cheyenne is convinced his father did not love him but feels now is the time to put the past behind him. However he arrives too late; his father is already dead by the time he arrives.
The film focuses not only on Cheyenne’s journey to avenge his father, who was devastatingly humiliated by Nazis during the war and spent his life tracking the man who abused him, but his journey of self discovery.
Throughout his quest Cheyenne meets people who reawaken his soul that had been trapped in the past.
On finally tracking down the Nazi he has to ask himself if his purpose is to even the score on behalf of his late father, or if he can move on from the past in a way his father never could.
This Must Be The Place is a story of emotional development, and so it is understandable that Director Paolo Sorrentino is not in any rush to get to the action. Instead he slowly builds the back-story and characters, without which the film would not be able to draw on the characters’ thought processes and emotions to move the plot along.
Sorrentino had the audience laughing together more than once; the laughter was not as coarse as slapstick however, but light relief from the intense melancholy that had settled like mist over Cheyenne.
Penn modelled his character on an Ozzy Osborne figure complete with speech impediment from years of drama and drugs. His performance was detailed; his face rarely broke from a deadpan expression and yet poured out so much emotion from behind all that make up.
While delivering witty and self assured lines that hinge on madness, Penn speckled his script with repeated phrases and senile titter that gave the impression of Cheyenne living deep inside his own head, rarely reaching out to the rest of the world.
A lugubrious and pretty musical score is set by the sounds of the films band The Pieces of Shit and 80’s rock bands, including The Talking Heads, who provided the inspiration for the title of the film.
This Must Be The Place explores a variety of tones with anger and resentment; it is endearing at moments when innocence and the true self is shown, but displays the true grit of reality. It is a coming of age story, 20 years too late for Cheyenne.
This Must Be The Place is on show at Cornerhouse from, for further information visit their website here.