This Must Be the Place (2011) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
78 Reviews
Sort by:
Alternately quirky and affecting, this heartwarming movie with its laid-back charm and deadpan humour is anchored by a virtuoso performance by Sean Penn
moviexclusive31 March 2012
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 off him.

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.

50 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Surrender into it's reality
KexUK13 August 2012
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.
38 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"Wonderful dark comedy..."
Sindre Kaspersen2 March 2012
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.
53 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Its about time!
Julian092214 October 2012
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!)
24 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
2011 Best!
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
95 out of 142 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Offbeat story of development of character
gingerrotan21 May 2011
Warning: 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.
70 out of 107 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
fascinating and clever
krzysiektom22 June 2012
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.
30 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Mixed up and imperfect
Harold Boss1 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this last night. I liked the character of Cheyenne a great deal. Sean Penn's performance was for me the centre of this film, especially the dialogue that was sometimes very sharp and unexpected. It must be said however that the movie went on a lot of unnecessary tangents. Whole plot lines were opened up and then left unresolved. The biggest one seems to be the disappearance of the Irish boy Tony. There are several scenes involving Tony's mother, but they lead nowhere. Basically someone should have got into the script, cut all the flab out and focused on what is important here - the character of Cheyenne and his (mis)adventures.

If you had to categorise this movie you would probably put it in the "self-discovery/road movie" basket. Cheyenne is having a bit of a crisis, goes travelling and then rediscovers himself. Unfortunately in Cheyenne's world there is very little meaning to be found. Things happen arbitrarily, people launch into meaningless random conversations in almost every scene. The camera focuses on bizarre unrelated objects. It seems like there isn't very much to learn from a world like this, so the message I got was "you may as well be yourself". I was expecting the movie to end with Cheyenne back in Dublin, hugging his wife and saying something like "I guess I like things just the way they are." It was therefore surprising to me that there was only one scene with Cheyenne back in Dublin and it didn't involve his friends of family at all. Instead he is looking at the cranky mother who lost her son, and he is dressed as blandly as possible. It's difficult to draw any meaning from this scene, although it's possibly implying that he is now embarking on a "normal" life. It was a contradictory and a very dissatisfying conclusion.
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A guy who tries to avenge his father. Or not.
martinegb25 August 2011
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....
79 out of 134 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The fascination of slowness
Maggie Sarabi3 March 2012
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.
43 out of 71 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Penn is simply wonderful!
blogurious1 June 2012
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.
20 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Forget everything you read on the other user reviews
padron70224 December 2011
This movie was 118 minutes of pure boredom. I understood from the plot that it was about an aging rocker, I understood that it was about finding his fathers executioner an ex-Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the US.

Sean Penn mumbled, whispering thru out the entire movie just made it difficult and frustrating to try to understand what he was saying most of the time.

Penns interaction with other characters was unbelievable and completely wooden. Real people, even aging rock stars, do not interact in this way.

Just because it's strange doesn't mean it belongs in this movie. The random sequences had nothing to do with the story and where just added for looks.

The side stories where slow, predictable and with little entertainment value. At one point my wife and I came to the conclusion that perhaps the end would tie everything together and shed some much needed light on the events we just witnessed. No such luck. The ending like the parts that came before was just as pointless.

My advice to you. Watch four episodes of The Osbournes and you will be better off.
75 out of 154 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This is What Film Making is All About
garak99-705-68601314 November 2012
Three weeks ago I see the trailer for THIS MUST BE THE PLACE and thought "This looks like a pretty good film I have to see it" I was not disappointed THIS MUST BE THE PLACE was all I thought it was going to be and much more it was a stunning captivating film as a aging rock star Cheyenne (Sean Penn) in a Oscar worthy performance seeks revenge for the sadistic Nazi concentration camp guard that may still be alive who was especially hard on his just deceased father. Cheyenne is a unique interesting character that at times you feel both pity and anger toward at one point in the film he is speaking with a woman and her son where the woman says "Cheyenne once sang with Mick Jagger where he corrects her saying "Actually Mick Jagger once sang with Me" I cannot recommend this film enough go see it the ending is standing ovation worthy.
13 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good start, confusing middle, dull ending
grantss8 June 2015
Good start, confusing middle, dull ending.

Set up was interesting, and you feel that it could lead to something profound. However, it takes off on a random tangent at some point and never regains its focus, or sense of profundity. Many red herrings though, and dead ends.

Sean Penn plays the role he was required to play, but I am not sure I care too much about the character. Decent performances all round though.

Also, as much as I like Talking Heads' "This must be the place", there are just so many versions you can hear, by various artists and actors, before you are irritated by the song...
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great acting, not that great a movie
Raymond1 January 2013
I thought this would be a better movie. The premise is quite interesting and I usually like these artsy dramedies. This one on the other hand tries to be more artsy than it really is.

At first I didn't like how Sean Penn portrayed Cheyenne, but later on in the movie I completely forgot that I was watching Mr. Penn. So I guess the performance is good, and maybe I just didn't find the character to be a very interesting or likable.

This movie is slow, and I don't even mind slow movies. Hell I usually think the slower the better, but this just drags forever. The plot doesn't take off until half way thru and even then it feels like you've already watched this movie for hours.

There's an insane amount of camera trickery, almost every scene uses some camera dolly or crane thing, even if it serves no purpose other than moving the camera around in an "imaginative way". It was really distracting and I didn't find the camera work that fun to look at.

The script leaves a lot of stuff untold. There is talk about people who are seemingly important, but they are never explained who they are and while you have ideas, it's not something you'd like to spend any energy guessing. Some movies make these mind games fun, but here they're just annoying. I noticed myself thinking all the time if I had missed something, but reading at the forums here, I don't think I missed anything. This movie just doesn't inspire you to figure out those loose endings at all.

In the end I gather I just don't like the directors way of making movies. The story is quite interesting, but the way it's told just wasn't my cup of tea.
8 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A great film but not for everyone
mmentges-114 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this film last evening on DVD, and it was a brilliant film which really spoke to me. Perhaps one needs to be over 50 to really understand this film - I think those who hated this film probably were younger, and just didn't get it, which is OK.

Sean Penn captured a mid-life crises better than any film made, in his character of a retired make-up wearing glam rock-star (Think Alice Cooper), who is now living in a manor house on the edge of Dublin, Ireland. He spends his day like an old man/woman carrying around a shopping cart, and hanging out a the mall with a teenage girl. The mall was a perfect metaphor, as it conveys his empty life, where the highlight seems to be sitting in his half-million dollar kitchen waiting for his micro-wave pizza to be finished.

I found all plot threads were completed in time - his visit to the grave of a young rock fan who committed suicide (likely because of the lyrics of Penn's songs), to the mother who is waiting for her run-away son to reappear. . .she sees Penn return after his adventure, a changed man, and realizes her son needed to leave in order to move on with his life (and likely he WILL return someday as Penn returned).

Penn's adventure in the US is perfect, and satisfying. The director captures the quirkiness of the US without put-downs that seem regular in European films. His view of the US (after being away for 30 years) is much like a child just taking it in without judgment. My favorite scene was with a tattoo artist sitting next to him in a bar. Penn said, "that is an interesting job." The man replies - "it is not a job, I am an artist." Penn replies, "do you notice that no one works anymore? Everyone does something artistic." (think bartenders are now "hand crafted" cocktail artisans).

At the end, Penn appears out of make-up for the first time in the film, having finally moved on to adulthood, and perhaps even as a producer for the neighborhood Irish band, The Pieces of Sh#t.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
alan-51-11197427 February 2012
I guess this movie is a continuation of the attempt to create a kind of Americana answer to European cinema and I'm sorry to say that it fails. I know the director is Italian but there's nothing European about this movie (yes that's a criticism!).

It's studiously quirky. So studious that the quirkiness becomes predictable. Pan.... reveal! Cut! Quirkiness in every shot.

Sean Penn's character is believable but mostly close to inaudible.

This movie could be a lot more fun if played at +33% speed with graphic speech bubbles for Sean Penn.

The indie Americana spirit continues with the simpering acoustic soundtrack. I don't think this had ever annoyed me (I was always a fan of folk and acoustic music) until I saw Juno. Then I heard acoustic guitars and simpering in almost every indie movie. Awww... so sensitive. So sensitive they're afraid to move beyond the five "safe" notes. Bless.

David Byrne's cameo felt as much an awkward non-sequitur as the inclusion of The Lovin' Spoonful in "Whats up, Tiger Lily?" and that was 1966 so I guess the director achieved something there.

I personally think David Byrne isn't clever, original or interesting so I'm probably biased.

If you like David Byrne, want to see Sean Penn play Robert Smith's Aspergers doppelganger and like high levels of quirkiness delivered quite slowly, watch it. I wish you well and hope that your time will feel less wasted than mine.
27 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sean Penn is Unwatchable
James Cain29 February 2012
I struggled to maintain my attention through the first and second act, hoping that the third act would bring some semblance of meaning or direction to the story and characters. Sadly, it did not. Sean Penn's performance in this film is nothing short of awful. While we're beaten over the head with the assertion that the character of Cheyenne is scarred and emotionally withdrawn, Penn delivers each line in a monotonous, nearly incomprehensible and inaudible mutter that in no way develops his character or enhances the story. On screen, I don't see a troubled human trying to cope through life and tragedy; instead, I see an actor forcing tired tropes in a robotic fashion in hopes of award recognition.
25 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A confused rare misfire for the ever reliable Sean Penn, due to a hopelessly muddled screenplay
Likes_Ninjas902 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
An ageing, softly spoken Gothic rock star named Cheyenne (Sean Penn) is bored with his life in Dublin. He opts to wear full makeup everyday and lives in a huge mansion with his wife Jane (Frances McDormand), who is a fire-fighter. He is also friends with Mary (Eve Hewson), an unhappy Goth girl who has been separated from her mother. Cheyenne tries and fails to set her up with someone in the mall who is interested in her. He also regularly visits the grave of a boy because he feels responsible for his death, even though the parents tell him not to visit. One of the other major threads in Cheyenne's life is that he has not spoken to his father in thirty years, who was a holocaust survivor in Auschwitz. When he learns of his death, Cheyenne decides to travel across America and with the help of a man named Mordecai (Judd Hirsch) he works to find the Nazi war criminal Aloise (Heinz Lieven) who humiliated his father.

This is a confused rare misfire for the ever reliable Sean Penn, due to a hopelessly muddled screenplay. It is the first English language feature of Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, who also co-wrote the script with Umberto Contrarello. The film starts promisingly because Sorrentino's first major theme, isolation, is a successful one. He resorts to giving Cheyenne's house a cool, sterile look through a white colour palette scheme. This is deliberately at odds with Cheyenne's Gothic appearance. He's been compared quite accurately to the lead singer of The Cure, Robert Smith. He is always dressed in black, with dark eyeliner and red lipstick that characterises him deliberately as feminine and therefore misplaced against any lighter tones. People stare at him in malls and supermarkets, either to take pictures or just to laugh at his appearance. Further visualising his stasis and isolation is Sorrentino's camera, where the tracking shots are purposely slow in their movements to show how this bloke is drifting rather aimlessly through life. Unfortunately, the same can be said about the film itself. The script is so overloaded with strange details, side characters and threads that its almost an impenetrable movie. There's little clarity about who exactly these people are, how they relate to each other and why they're in this film other than to project an idea, rather than a personality. I found the relationship between Mary and Cheyenne, who he insists is not his daughter, to be quite bizarre since they regularly hang out together. Even more unlikely is the brief time he spends with a waitress who recognises him and then lets him stay with her and her son briefly. It's equally frustrating that many characters, including the wasted talents of Frances McDormand, fade out of the story for so long that there is no continuity in the plot, leaving the film without a focus. The misguidance of the narrative is apparent is just how long it takes to reach the film's main revenge thread. It's close to an hour into the film and ends on a whimper. Adding further confusion is the film's reliance on self-conscious dialogue that is infuriatingly cryptic. When he's told that his burger is overcooked, Cheyenne replies: "We go from an age when we say 'My life will be that', to an age when we say 'That's life'". I'm all for Wes Anderson-like quirkiness but lines like this really test your threshold for pseudo-intellectualism. At most one can praise the bravery of Penn's performance, one of the strangest of a distinguished career, even if his character's motives are unclear and implausible. 'Remote' is not a word you normally associate with Penn but he succeeds in making Cheyenne cold and distant and sometimes funny, through his small whispery voice, followed by an occasional outburst that is true to his passive-aggressive nature. In spite of the lead performance though, it's a very unsatisfying and unmoving film that shares all too much in common with its central character.
14 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
It tries too hard
sweenetto12 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a big fan of Sorrentino's work, and I was curious to see his attempt with a bigger production, surrounded by "big shots".

I must say that I found the movie very disappointing.

1) It tries to hard to get the status of "cult" movie, by using artsy shots, a self-indulgent camera-work, and catchy lines. Quite a few times you are left wondering what the heck a scene is trying to convey (e.g., the lift to the American Indian, or the heavily tattooed guy at the bar, the truck's self-combustion). My feeling was that those additional characters and incidents add nothing, apart from trying to make you think that you are watching something "special".

2) The characters do not come across as "natural". They all seem a parody. I do like Frances McDormand. I think she is a terrific actress. But her role did not have any depth, and felt out of place in several occasions (why is she a firefighter?).

3) The whole Dublin-U.S.-Dublin trip is not believable. It's too surreal, the initial motivation behind it in particular.

The ending scene is kind of touching, though.
12 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This must not be the place quite yet!
fahy_colm20 May 2012
The central character in 'This Must be the Place' is arguably the film's biggest problem. "Cheyenne" is a fifty-something ex-musician self- lobotomised by a drink and drugs fuelled rock star life, who has been hiding out in reclusive splendour in Dublin, Ireland, for over twenty years. It is unbelievable to anyone with even a fleeting knowledge of Dublin that a man with that name could live in the Irish capital and not end up being called "Shy Ann" or "Shane the Apache" or some other reductive appellation typical of Dublin wit. While Sorrentino may have known that there was a time in the Nineties when everyone with a celebrity sticker, from Lisa Stanfield to Salman Rushdie, came to live in 'Cool Hibernia', he appears not to be aware of that Irish intolerance for pretentious whackery would have made it virtually impossible for this bushy haired moron to leave in peace on the Island. Why do you think Bob Geldof lives in London? (I'm just saying . . .).

Apparently, Cheyenne was inspired by The Cure's Robert Smith. Well, in the hair and lipstick department maybe this is true. But, it is worth noting that Mr. Smith has a 'normal' name and still makes great music. I am sure he would be none too pleased being associated with the self indulgent heroin saturated pile of royalties driftwood dished up by the man who previously gave us (brilliantly) Harvey Milk or Jimmy Markum. Sean Penn's latest persona is a limping cross between an Ozzy Osbourne- meets-Jack Sparrow caricature and someone who has somehow survived the terrible intellectual trauma inflicted by a plane crash, only to emerge suffering from rapid-descent induced haemorrhoids. Some will say Cheyenne is more Penn acting genius, but whether it is or its is not, it does not work here.

The opening third of the film is set in a Dublin that barely escapes the gardens of (what looks like) the British embassy residence (!!) and a suburb under the shadow of the new Aviva stadium. Apparently, the "melancholy" of Dublin was chosen as suitable territory for a story that later deals with themes of regret and retribution, leading Sorrentino to move the opening filming location from London. But, Dublin itself features very little however and plays no real part in conveying any sense of the pain or suffering of the protagonist. However, the Irish scenes feature some of the film's best comedic moments, like Simon Delaney's hilarious exposition of his tricks to attract women. The Irish cast, also including Olwen Fouere, acquit themselves admirably but in side action, which seems like unessential stuffing. Cheyenne for example has a mercilessly dull galpal "Mary" (played by the bland Eve Hewson). Mary, a sort of twenty-something groupie has found herself latched onto Cheyenne, perhaps to represent a character balance to the pop icon's insanity, but instead she hovers about like another reason for it. Mary is only valuable for a laugh (at her expense), when a young suitor, who has been fruitlessly chasing her affections, turns out to be gay, thus bestowing the audience with a joyous sense of salvation for the young man's future happiness. The news is broken to us by none other than the brilliant Frances McDormand playing 'Jane', Cheyenne's adoring wife of thirty years. And, yes, it stretches credibility to its elasticated limits that Jane is an active member of the Dublin Fire Brigade. But, if you can bring yourself to overcome this further absurdity . . .

It is really not until 'Place' slowly drags itself and the audience away from Dublin to the USA, that the real story begins to unfold. By now of course, the heretofore maudlin Cheyenne is such a painful article that you neither care for him or his musical past. From the minute the boat arrives on the east coast (he doesn't fly), one feels that Cheyenne almost gets in the way of the evolving story. Despite the mounting odds, a slowly emerging storyline concerning Cheyenne's Jewish father, who has spent a lifetime hunting a persecutor from his time in Auschwitz, ropes the viewer in. Cheyenne's father has died just when he had almost tracked the Nazi down, thus bringing Cheyenne on a road trip to complete his father's quest. Thus Cheyenne remains as the irritating conduit through which we get to meet a host of other characters as he embarks on his journey. Oh well, at least the wonderful Judd Hirsch, who is on top comedic and dramatic form, steps in. The brilliant Kerry Condon also features as a tragic war widow, Rachel, and Shea Wigham is memorable a busy (if disturbed) Texan investment broker. Other cameos from Harry Dean Stanton and David Byrne, however, are not so successful. Stanton's set of gum delph is a complete distraction (the set of porcelain looks like it has been robbed from the mouth of Reese Witherspoon). Byrne, on the other hand, takes over a full scene with a stirring if over-long rendition of the song from which the film takes its title, but he then promptly dies like a rabbit stuck in headlights in the subsequent scene looking as though he cannot come to terms with Penn's character.

'Place' is billed as a comedy and despite strong comic moments, they often feel out of place. As the film progresses the comedy ultimately seems pointless, as the seriousness of the subject matter takes hold until the dénouement, somewhere in the Utah Alps, when all sense of comedy evaporates.

Sorrentino has brought his old cinematographer mate. Luca Bigazzi on board again with this film, which, it has to be said, is beautifully shot. But the visual experience is lost to a frustrating and overly ambitious story, one which was, perhaps, too much too soon for Sorrentino to take on and control, not least his leading man.
9 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sean Penn in The Sims
Dule R24 February 2012
I strongly believe this movie was taken right out of The Sims where some 11 year old kid had his imaginary mind come to play as he made up some imaginary story about some 50 year old Goth living in a big house. Even if the story was true, why would anyone make a movie about this??? There are 50.000 stories out there and a 50 year old Goth avenging his fathers death hunting down a Nazi. Cmon!

For the fact that the goth is a whispering, weak, slow, just out of a coma kind of guy doesn't make this interesting. If he at least had some character to him rather than the weakling he plays it could be somewhat enduring for me. And now they are probably going to rave it up to the skies like the 7 score here on IMDb with it because people think different is all it should take to make it cult.

First of all, its not even remotely interesting. Slow and badly eccentric. And then when you find out the scenes, which are so intelligently glued together, has nothing to do with the plot of the movie but to bring forth some ordinary people dressed up as puppets it all starts to make even less sense. The activities they have in the movie are just glued together in different locations. The third part is that the role Sean plays just kills every interest you have about it. When i found out there is nothing really more to it than what you see that just did it for me. Like staring at paint drying. Maybe some special people will find this interesting. I found it stupid, boring, badly eccentric and SLOW. Not even once did my imagination start to ask questions, there is absolutely nothing behind the curtains of it. I was hoping for something, and there has been other movies like it where i just sit through it enduring for it to hopefully have a catch in the end. There is nothing. Like the creator thought he made it for it to be viewed as art and that it will become a cult movie or something.

If you don't mind staring at a film with no relative story to the actors and can endure slow and rather mixed up scenes which are not tied up to the rest of the plot and the ending, then fine, go ahead and watch it. I personally cant believe this movie got a 7 score.

Sean Penns character, and i like Sean Penn, looks like a messed up neurotic dressed up in Goth clothing, and not the other way around. Make that a 50 year old messed up neurotic with speech problems dressed up in goth clothing. I thought it would bring forth a laugh, his character is so... like a puppet, a weak, slow, stupid clown of a puppet, could be the worst character i have ever seen in any movie. Maybe i just don't get this Drama\Comedy, even if its Dark. Maybe if they hired Keith Richards for the role it would have been better loll. And when he opens his mouth you start to wonder if thats what this film is about. I just wonder why he did not stutter and roll in on a wheelchair on the opening scene, put some psycho music score in the background and it would have all been so very much more entertaining.

I don't know if they tried to make another eccentric hit like Edward Scissorhand or what this is, that people can make movies that leaves you traumatized without even trying. At least Tim Burton knows what he was doing as Scissorhands is not the best played out stories on screen either, but at least he got Edward through the film and made him memorable. This movie i just want to forget about but that cover is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.
26 out of 62 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Unbelievably bad.
Paul Creeden14 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I gave this film a middling grade out of respect for all the technical folks who worked on it. Some of the cinematography was OK. The locations could have been anywhere for the most part. The music was fair. The editing was OK.

What I disliked most was the pretentiousness of it. It was a slick film trying to behave like an indie. Nothing worse.

Now...about Sean Penn in this. What was he thinking? Did he have Hedwig-Angry-Inch envy? Did he always want to dress up? It reminded me of his foray into developmental disability, which was equally disastrous. Why does a man who can do justice to an icon like Harvey Milk take on a bogus project like this one?

I skipped through the speechless scenes because I felt like I was being tortured. I can only say that this was one of very few films which felt in retrospect to have been a waste of my time.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Weird on purpose, and imperfect and overdone despite its deliberations
secondtake26 November 2013
This Must Be the Place (2011)

Sean Penn tries very hard in this film, taking on a role of the worn out and disturbed rock star (Cheyenne) living in isolation. His character is weirdly ambiguous—and just plain weird—somewhere between a cross-dresser, a transvestite, and a myopic hedonist. He is something like "the idiot" of literature who seems completely out of touch but also has a wisdom and aloof perspective others do not.

It sometimes works. The movie itself is filled with ambiguity, and not in an enchanting way. Since it does not charm by its aura and filmic intention (it has little of either), it should give us a better sense of what exactly is going on. Oh, you'll get the drift, and you'll pick up on the Cheyenne's regret and melancholy. And you might understand he hits the road in a bumbling search for some evil-doer geriatric Nazi (I'm serious) that no other person is better qualified to pursue.

Well, any movie that pushes into its own sphere with some enthusiasm is worth watching, to me. I'm glad I did. But I can use my experience to warn a viewer that it's a personal calling here. Penn alone is reason to either hate or like the film, his overacting reminding me mostly that there are people who are really like this character who would have done much better. Instead we feel him acting all the time. It should be said that some of the other actors are forced to push their performances, too.

One curious aspect to the film I loved was all the versions of the one song in the film, "Home" or "This Must Be the Place" by the Talking Heads (and performed by all kinds of people including David Byrne himself in a small, very tacked-on cameo). Some of the versions are so different you might not even catch that it's the same song again. Listen.

So what's the point of all this angst and campy sadness? I think it's about the rediscovery of this Cheyenne's self. His real self, a person with normal qualities. He succeeds by breaking out of his self-imposed hermetic world and in a way it's a warm and almost terrific experience. For him and for the viewer. But for all its intentions it felt forced to me. There wasn't enough supporting material, not enough ambiance, and not enough character development (oddly enough, since it's all about Cheyenne's character). There is so much time spent on superficial aspects we never really get into the depths that might be here. Maybe.

I want to think of this as a 10 star dream with a 4 star soul. That makes 7, I guess. But it feels less satisfying than that for me, and I'm thinking you'll know by now whether you might give this a tentative whirl.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Boring, Boring, Boring
Elwyn Davies13 March 2012
It is rare that I will switch a film off after 10 minutes, this is a man who sat through Tree of Life, but this film forced me to reach for the remote.

It is little wonder that the Irish economy is in such dire straits if it is wasting it's money on a film about Robert Smith having suffered a stroke.

Ozzie Osbourne would have been better in the lead role - at least then it would have been funny. I gave it 2 because of the photography. A misguided attempt to put a Hollywood name outside the theatre. What were they thinking? What was Sean Penn thinking? About as much as the lead character one would think.

You can't put lipstick on a pig.
17 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews