Well that was a right old stinker of an Easter Bank Holiday, wasn’t it? With my family still drunk on chocolate and whipped into a frenzy by a new series of Horrible Histories, I slunk off to the cinema to see This Must Be The Place.
Whilst I enjoyed it very much, this film does come Marmite flavoured and won’t be to everyone’s taste. Sean Penn plays Cheyenne, retired goth rock star of Cheyenne and the Fellows (like Siouxsie and the Banshees, geddit?). He’s living in Dublin but bored, punctuating his days with handball and trips to the supermarket.
Then Cheyenne’s estranged dad dies. This leads to revelations about his dad’s lifelong quest to find his Nazi persecutor. The film then turns into a road movie as Penn’s character goes on his own Nazi-hunting trip across the USA.
And like any good road movie, he meets a selection of oddballs and has a succession of redemptive experiences. Plus he stops for a little ping pong along the way.
Sean Penn plays the lead role in a seriously weird, whispery babylady voice, now and again breaking out into a tinkly giggle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Penn play funny before, but there’s a comic edge to this performance that he just about gets away with, silly voice and all.
So on paper it all sounds terrible, or amazing depending on your perspective – if you find the idea of Sean Penn dressed as Robert Smith going Nazi hunting across America inherently entertaining, then I think you will like this film. I thought it was great. The only let down is the ending, which I found to be a bit weak – it sort of petered out rather than came to a definite conclusion.
And no, the film wasn’t named after the Pet Shop Boys’ This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave (what idiot named Joanne would think THAT?), but in fact after the superior This Must be The Place by Talking Heads.