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This Must Be The Place

Year: 2011
Studio: Indigo Film
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Writer: Paolo Sorrentino/Umberto Contarello
Cast: Sean penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, Kerry Condon, Harry Dean Stanton

It doesn't say so anywhere and I'm not sure if it was the intention of either the director or Sean Penn as the protagonist Cheyenne, but I'm sure he's channeling the look if not the sound of Robert Smith. With his enormous unruly black hair and effeminate black wardrobe he looks every bit the former Cure frontman.

It's an interesting characterisation, but the script doesn't stop there when it comes to weird, putting him in a bizarre story about leaving his Dublin home to travel across the USA hunting a former Nazi following the death of his orthodox Jewish father, a man he now regrets never loved nor had a relationship with him.

He's happily married to fire fighter Jane (McDormand) 20-some years after his rock stardom, friends with a young goth girl but still guilty about two teenage boys who killed themselves because of the influence of his music. There's also a bitter middle-aged woman who stares out a window smoking, waiting for the return of a son who apparently walked out one day and never came back, although what that had to do with anything else or what symbolism it implied went over my head.

The more interesting story is this very European figure dragging his wheeled suitcase across the dusty panhandle of the American desert inland and the characters he meets along the way, including the grown niece he never knew, her young son and in a gleefully oddball meeting, the former airline pilot who claims he invented the wheeled suitcase (Stanton).

At the behest of a terminally angry Nazi hunter, Cheyenne crosses the country to find the concentration camp guard who humiliated and tormented his father when the latter was an inmate to exact revenge.

How this man will commit any act of violence is the conundrum at the centre of the film. He's a slow-moving, docile, simpering, tightly wound man whose every movement is so considered and light and whose voice so like that of a whimpering puppy you wonder if he'll find his quarry and just sit staring at him.

It's not entirely successful as a story, with too many weird subplots and tangents and an overlong central plot, and it wears too much of the quirkiness it aims for on its sleeve, but it's almost worth it to see another strong character by a major talent.

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