This Must Be the Place Paulo Sorrentino

This Must Be the Place Paulo Sorrentino
7
Former rock star Cheyenne (Sean Penn), a gothed-out, Robert Smith-like man-child with a penchant for mumbling world observations, lives off his royalties in Ireland with firefighter wife Jane (Frances McDormand). He's quiet, mostly likeable and amusingly frank in his observations, noting the peculiarities of the world and people despite being outwardly the presumed local weirdo. As the title (a reference to the Talking Heads song of the same name) suggests, this story is a long-delayed coming-of-age tale about a man whose early success and drug-addled, youthful irreverence have left him in a perpetual state of inertia, living in a mostly empty mansion and socializing only with a young goth girl. His hand is forced when he learns that his father is dying in NYC, which forces him on a road trip, of sorts, back to his roots. Director Paulo Sorrentino focuses on the idea that "something isn't quite right," having a penchant for capturing the oddness of any given moment, such as Cheyenne juxtaposed with mundanity or playing handball in an empty pool with full makeup and big '80s hair. When his trip back to the U.S. finds him hunting down a Nazi war criminal as a final act of vengeance for his deceased father, a series of clues sends him around the country, encountering damaged, idiosyncratic people at every turn. Though the tone of the film is contemplative, with the idea that searching for a place or a point to give life meaning is ultimately fruitless, an overall sense of oddball logic and sly observation add a consistent element of dark comedy. Much of it comes from Cheyenne's disposition, noticing framed pictures of puzzles at a Motel and staring dazedly at an elderly Jewish detective (Judd Hirsch) ranting about all of the missing gold teeth from WWII. Blowing his hair out of his eyes and quietly doling out observations about everyone being an "artist" rather than a "worker" in the modern era, his idiosyncratic disposition as outsider allows him to see just how insane the world around him really is. And in such a crazy world, with so many lost souls trying to make sense of it all, his definition of home and identity shifts from the external to internal when he realizes he isn't the only one alienated from the collective delusion of normalcy. No supplements are included with the DVD, which isn't surprising given the limited release and lukewarm reception. It's a shame, since this low-key comedy is actually quite astute and is occasionally laugh-out-loud hilarious. (Alliance)