Movie Review: This Must Be The Place (2011)

I only discovered this last month. A friend put it on. Movie starts. Picture Robert Smith from The Cure as he was in the heyday. But now imagine him still dressed like that 30 years later, with the same big back-combed hair, white face makeup and garish red lipstick. Out of place and in the wrong time. A walking anachronism. But then visualise this is Sean Penn.  Unlike you’ve ever seen him before. Even down to the strange high-pitch wheezy voice.

There he is, trudging automaton-like through a grimy Dublin estate towing an OAP shopping trolley behind him. It is a weird and intriguing juxtaposition.

this-must-be-the-place (2011) movie poster - sean penn

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The story quickly unfolds. He is wealthy enough not to need to work  thanks to historical success with his music.  What does he do with his life?  He exists in comparative happiness with his wife / partner – the sublime Frances McDormand – playing a female firefighter.  There are shadows of loss. Of deaths for which he feels personally responsible for. There is psychological damage. Then the plot goes sideways. America. A road trip.  Old friends such as David Byrne in a brilliant stage set and cameo role.  Random encounters and a chord of deep personal need pulling the story along.  It’s compelling to watch, delightful, a real pleasure gem.  If you like good indie then you’ll love this movie. A slice of life. You observe Cheyenne at this point which yields a form of resolution you were not expecting. Deep history and the obsessive nature of vengeance.  Many threads are left untied, severed as the film ends – leaving questions you enjoy mulling through. It’s a movie I find myself thinking about days and weeks later.

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