'This Must Be The Place' Review: No Way Home...LITERALLY

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Sean Penn plays Cheyenne, a retired Goth god in the way of Robert Smith; his makeup and black attire effectively preserve his solitude by repelling others. Married to a confusingly healthy Frances McDormand, Cheyenne leaves his mansion to lunch with his “not daughter” Mary as a matter of course. When he’s invited to his father’s funeral he learns estranged Dad had a hobby: uncovering the man who humiliated him at Aushwitz.

The point at which this story stops being about a fake Cure frontmant and becomes a Nazi hunt is the moment you start wondering if This theater is really The Place you'd like to be.

With a title as indicative as This Must Be The Place, it’s apparent writer/director Paolo Sorrentino wants to explore a feeling of misalignment—of not fitting anywhere. As we watch Cheyenne get his bearings (renting trucks, taking planes, doing grown-up things he hasn’t in 30 years) he starts in with a mantra: “something’s not quite right.” It’s affirmation he’s getting a grip on the world around him, but it’s also as clear as “not his daughter."

In the film’s strongest and stupidest scene, Penn meets an angelically white-suited David Byrne. He yells that his work was just sad pop songs for sad kids; it was nothing. But Byrne turns ideas into reality and people call him “an artist” for it. Cheyenne’s expressions of turmoil are like his character arc: a bit of noise that exists for its own sake and reaches no destination slowly.

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