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I can't lie, i was expecting a "normal" movie by an Italian director,
like Muccino's movies- not great, a little weak here and there and
kinda boring-! "This Must Be the Place" instead is a great flick,
probably the best movie of 2011, great story, amazing acting, a
photography that leave you speechless. It's a must see. Plus it make
you smile, it's ironic, Sean Penn has fun with his character, he plays
with it, his moves and his voice are always perfect, it good to see an
actor in such a great shape. This is one of those pictures that remind
you why going to the movie is such an amazing thing to do!
Ciao ciao, Alberto
Italian screenwriter and director Paolo Sorrentino's fifth feature film
which he co-wrote with Italian-born screenwriter Umberto Contarello,
was shot on various locations in Ireland, Italy and USA and marks his
first English-language film. It tells the story of Cheyenne, a
middle-aged, diverge and somewhat bored former rock star who lives a
quiet life with his spirited wife Jane in a large house in Dublin,
Ireland. Cheyenne hangs out with his friend Jeffery who goes on and on
about his many lovers, has a close relationship with a young girl from
his neighborhood named Mary and is trying his luck as a stockbroker,
but when he learns that his father whom he has not seen for thirty
years is dying, he leaves to make peace with him.
This French, Irish and Italian co-production which was initiated by Paolo Sorrentino's interest in Nazi war criminals, is a humorous, rhythmic and efficiently edited drama, a gracefully narrated and well-paced story about family relations, identity, interpersonal relations, reconciliation, war, vengeance and love and a rare study of character which draws an intriguing portrayal of a distinguished man who sets out on a journey of discovery that leads him towards a greater understanding of himself and his estranged relationship with a father he barely knew.
Paolo Sorrentino's directing is distinct and the cinematography by his frequent collaborator Luca Bigazzi is eminent in this character-driven and plot-driven road-movie which is impelled and reinforced by its quick-witted dialog and the detailed and excellent acting performance by Sean Penn who is accompanied by Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch and Kerry Condon's great supporting acting performances. Scottish-born musician David Byrne's significant and memorable score emphasizes the prominent atmosphere in this humane and wonderful dark comedy which gained the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 64th Cannes Film Festival in 2011.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This project apparently germinated when Sean Penn was directing the jury at Cannes at 2008 and told Italian Director Paolo Sorrentino that he was ready, willing and able to take on a Sorrentino project. The first-time viewer watching Sean Penn apply eye make up and lipstick doesn't know whether his character is a psychotic killer or a sad sack cross dresser, but over time we learn that he is a childlike creature, an aging pop star who can be simultaneously a nitwit and a truth-teller. The Nazi connection was a stretch that took me by surprise; it comes about at the death of Penn's character's father. Judd Hirsch playing the role of Nazi hunter galvanizes Penn's lost soul into following his father's mission, and together they pursue a neglected Nazi war criminal to a one-personal trailer park in Utah. Great casting here. Harry Dean Stanton has an intriguing bit part. Francis McDormand is the most understanding spouse in the whole world. Very quirky plot. Can't wait to see it again.
Is there a role which eludes Sean Penn? In Italian director Paolo
Sorrentino's English-language debut following his 2008 Cannes hit 'Il
Divo', the two-time Academy Award winner takes on an unlikely comedic
role as an over-the-hill pop star named Cheyenne and pulls it off with
aplomb. Indeed, even though the movie never does quite come together as
a cohesive whole, Penn's brilliant performance more than anchors the
entire film, and you'll find yourself hard-pressed to take your eyes
To say that Penn owns the entire movie is not an overstatement- right from the start, Penn mesmerises with a bizarre get-up consisting of a jet-black fright wig and all-black lipstick and eyeliner even in the comfort of his own sprawling home. As is typical of such characters, Cheyenne suffers from depression, and besides doing the groceries while his fireman of a wife (Frances McDormand) is off at work, spends most of his time in the day hanging out with a spunky teen Mary (Eve Hewson) at a café in a shopping mall.
Purpose is what is lacking in his life- haunted by the suicide of two brothers who said they were inspired by his lyrics, Cheyenne has not been able to return to his music since. For the first half hour, Sorrentino familiarises his audience with the idiosyncrasies of his lead character as well as his marriage with his wife Jane, and thanks to an empathetic performance by Penn, your heart will go out to this lost soul searching for that elusive thing called meaning. It is testament to Penn's flawless performance that you'll still feel the warmth and heart behind his character's eccentricities.
Cheyenne awakens from his stupor when he gets news that his father is dying and promptly makes the travel by cruise- because of his fear of flying- to New York. Unfortunately, he arrives too late, missing the very last opportunity to connect with the father he has not spoken to in years. So when his cousin Richard (Liron Levo) informs him that his dad was obsessed with tracking down a Nazi war criminal at Auschwitz named Aloise Lange (Heinz Lieven), Cheyenne takes it upon himself to complete his father's mission.
And so begins a road trip across the United States, each pit-stop in Michigan, New Mexico and finally Utah offering memorable encounters with locals that in their own way serve to give him closure and reconciliation. Mirroring Cheyenne's own inner transformation, Sorrentino adopts a measured pace as Cheyenne meets a history teacher (Joyce Van Patten), a war widow (Kerry Condon), his dad's fellow Nazi hunter Mordecai Midler (Judd Hirsch) and finally of course Lange himself. Less patient viewers will probably be frustrated, but those willing to accept the laid-back tone of the film will find Cheyenne's journey a rather therapeutic one- especially in its closing lesson on the importance of learning to let go of the past.
Sorrentino, who co-wrote the script with Umberto Contrarello, also lightens the mood of the film with some well-placed deadpan humour, delivered with panache by Penn. A scene where Cheyenne meets a gaggle of women in the lift discussing which brand of lipstick is best and finally gives them due advice just to shut them up is sharply hilarious, while his well-meaning attempt at match-making Mary with an earnest shopping mall staff proves sweet and amusing. But through the varying types of humour, it is Penn's unpretentious acting that makes them work- with a recurring gesture of Penn casually blowing a wisp of hair falling across his face perhaps the most consistently delightful narrative device. Among his co-stars, McDormand shines in her role as Cheyenne's wife, and a sequence where she is practising tai-chi in her lawn while distracted by her husband in the upper window one of the best moments in the film.
For rock fans, the participation of David Bryne is no doubt a highlight in itself, and Sorrentino pleases his fans with an extended concert scene that has the rock star performing the title song of the film while a woman in a room that reflects a period setting floats above the crowd. Nonetheless, for us cinephiles, the delight is in watching Sean Penn take on an unlikely comedic role in spite of his dramatic credentials. If it isn't yet apparent, we'll say it again- Penn's flawless performance is good enough reason to visit this place, and it's one that is warm, touching and unexpectedly affecting.
Took me by total surprise. OK, the main character is an aging rock star confronted with the tragedy his estranged father survived. But, really, does it matter that he/she is a rock star between glamor (the lip stick will take us back to Rockie Horror ...), all sort of pains linked to aging, search for well earned comfort and plain boredom (the film reminds us that we may all be at that point -- all the time?)? This wonderfully minimalist film asks quite directly about memory in our own lives. Buried (voluntarily or circumstantially)? showbiz (who gains what from remembering tragedies? or, as the film finally claims, mere distraction (are we not all bored?)? The clash between the Holocaust in Cheyenne's life and his passive determination to refuse to know puts the spectator on the edge for virtually two hours, which the exceptionally precise and surprising camera work only accentuates. Those close ups that summarize a person in two seconds! Those pans on landscapes that translate a entire state! "This must be the place" will remind us that cinema is before all, photography: well organized strings of moving images. And sound track. References to Mike Jagger and images of David Byrne are so, so clever. The fact that Patrick Modiano (please google him) was in the theater when I saw TMBTP at the Arlequin cinema in Paris made the whole experience even stronger. Sean Penn and Frances McDormant are beyond, beyond fabulous (and seemed to truly enjoy acting in it) Thanks to both! I cannot wait to see it again. And again. And....
I really adore this film. I think I saw it 5 times in various cinemas. It is a film about many things, like growing up, leaving the past behind, how parents can scar their children for life and of course about the Holocaust. It is also a sort of a road movie. The topic of the Holocaust is presented in a smart, sophisticated and almost delicate way like I have never seen before. Despite that or maybe because if the delicate approach it is no less effective in recalling the Holocaust than let's say "The Schindler's list". But very different, of course. The film is very well directed and I like the soundtrack as well. The film has a strange, hypnotic flow and rhythm to it, despite being slow in some parts. It can be funny too. The acting is excellent, especially by Penn but not only. Highly recommended.
It took quite a while until this movie comes to the US, I do not know
why it took so long, yet I hope it gets the response it deserves (I saw
it in Europe months ago already).
Sean Penn is just amazing and the whole movie is something you don't see much in US cinemas. Its so different that there is almost no comparison. Of course it will be a big hit within the Gothic scene, but also the regular movie fan should give it a try. Its very slow paced road trip, but Penn carries that overwhelmingly with his outstanding performance of the character, who reminds of course of Robert Smith, but in a superb way. The story is very simple and so I leave that totally out, since it would spoil it right away.
My favorite scene is when he visits the show from David Bryne playing "This must be the place", keep it in mind and enjoy the show! Its certainly an experience for real movie fans!
(That it won't be a huge box office hit, most likely, should not hold anybody back who wants to see a good movie!)
I'm a DVD man.Films are my most important relaxation methodology. For
me, the whole purpose of a film is to transport me into another
reality, even a 'factually historic' film does this, for that reality
was never subjectively mine. Occasionally a film comes along that is so
incredible in it's ability to 'transform my reality' that it becomes
embedded not only in my memory but leaves laser-like traces sparkling
in my consciousness.
This was such a film for me.
No spoilers here, but some aspects of the photography are amazing,simply beyond surrealistic,more glowingly minimalistic in their utter magnificence. How the hell can you make a supermarket shopping trip into an adventure journey through a time-warped window of photographic beauty? Watch out for the car at the gas station scene. It's a visually structured scene that hit my eyes with astonishment.
The acting is superb.Yet, that word seems so inadequate to describe Sean Penn's utterly mind-blowing performance. I had to keep reminding myself that this was Sean Penn and these continued reminders simply made his performance all the more brilliant.
In the manner of an 'old Master',Paolo Sorrentino places layer after layer of subtle strokes to compose a mesmerizing work. He takes his time about it, as though each stroke of his brush must be precisely executed so that the whole may be that 'other reality' I seek in my film watching.
If you will watch this then you must prepare yourself to surrender totally into ' it's reality'- I found it well worth the capitulation.
This must be the slowest movie I've ever seen, and I was completely
fascinated: slowly moving things on screen, a slowly moving camera, a
main character who walks and talks slowly, and last but not least, a
slowly developing story. In a time when everything has to go faster and
faster, this film just takes its time.
Cheyenne as a character could have been created by Tim Burton: a weird, lovable outsider who doesn't seem to belong to this world.
About Sean Penn's mumbling: English is not my first language, but I didn't think it was that bad. For me, it wasn't harder to understand Cheyenne than any of the other characters.
How refreshing it is to sit through an inspirational and yet
entertaining story. If you fell in love with Sean Pen during the
trailer, you will definitely be happy to know that those two hours will
not disappoint you.
"This Must be the Place" brings back Penn and his wonderful talent to depict a strange character that doesn't seem to connect with the world around him. It's a delicious journey through the ups and downs of life and the numerous ways of facing them. It's about love and family, courage and determination in searching for what makes sense to you in spite of what people may think. Penn is extraordinarily funny in a simple way, unpretentiously humble and somehow adorable as a man who sees the world differently from everybody else. I had a wonderful time watching this movie, without that feeling of betrayal left by so many deceitful trailers.
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