This Must Be the Place * Paolo Sorrentino (2011)

‘Tragicomedy’ is not really my genre, but I was curious about this film. Cheyenne (Sean Penn) is a retired rockstar who has been living on his past success for two decades. Judging the cover, he used to be some kind of gothrocker who never changed his style, so what would a large film make of a gruftie? Cheyenne suffers a heavy burden of his past success, so he left the USA for Ireland where he lives with his wife Jane (Frances McDormand) and a few close friends in a tiny vilage. His strange appearance and extremely modest way of talking often makes Cheyenne victim of pestering and surprise. When his father dies in the USA, Cheyenne travels there and finds a form of distraction that he needed badly.
I already expected a ‘tragicomedy’, but “This Must Be The Place” has higher peaks and lower depths than I thought. The film is pretty dramatic, but there is also nice humour both for people like Cheyenne and people who like to make fun of people that do not fit in. Especially during Cheyenne’s trip through the USA some serious life’s questions pass, perhaps even somewhat overdone here and there. A nice quote I find when a young, female fastfood restaurant server says: “That’s life”, Cheyenne replies something in the vein of “There is a time that you will say “this will be my life” and suddenly this becomes “that’s life””. This also seems to be the underlying ‘Leitmotiv’ of the film, a theme about which I have mixed feelings. Sorrentino seems to say that people who do not fit in, never grew up and when they do, they will be a good member of society.
“This Must Be The Place” is an interesting drama with wonderfull camera work and characters and situation that makes you think about life and society.

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