10 March 2012

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE (Dir. Paolo Sorrentino, 2011, Italy/France/Ireland),

Sean Penn as Cheyenne - a dead ringer for Robert Smith from The Cure.
Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s latest film takes its title from the Talking Heads song. That’s not the only aspect of 1980s pop culture referenced by Sorrentino. Cheyenne (Sean Penn) is a retired rock star with an iconic goth look who lives a reclusive life. Cheyenne is a dead ringer for singer Robert Smith who founded the British goth band The Cure. Much of the film’s dead pan humour comes from the harsh juxtaposition of Cheyenne’s seriously committed Goth look to the ordinariness of everyday people. This is Sorrentino’s most unexpected work to date. The narrative is littered with absurdest twists and benign moments. Paying homage to the American road movie, the film starts in Ireland then moves to America with Cheyenne in pursuit of his dead father’s tormentor, a Nazi war criminal. The influence of indie filmmaker Jarmusch is noticeable throughout especially in the delayed exchanges that goes on between Cheyenne and the assortment of American characters. The music by David Byrne is superb and he shows up in a strange cameo performing a Brechtian rendition of his classic song. This is one of Sean Penn’s quirkiest turns and it is a film that has all the hallmarks of becoming a cult hit. As for Sorrentino, well, he continues to flourish and evolve as a filmmaker. This Must Be The Place is a cinematic oddity and collaboration between Penn and Sorrentino. Here is Byrne with Talking Heads in 'Stop Making Sense' which was directed by Jonathan Demme in 1984: 


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