Monday, 17 September 2012

This Must Be the Place.

The first film to achieve widespread critical acclaim for the Italian film director and screenwriter Paolo Sorrentino was the 2004 psychological thriller The Consequences of Love that told the story of a lonely and secretive Italian businessman living in a Swiss hotel and his involvement with the Mafia. But my favourite Sorrentino film to date is II Divo (2008), a riveting tale of political intrigue and organised crime based on the extraordinary life of Guilo Andreotti, seven times Italian Prime Minister. Andreotti's long career was dogged by persistent accusations of conspiracy, Mafia connections and state-sponsored terror between the late 1970s and 1992. This is an absorbing study of the workings of the European political machine and its links with the Catholic Church and organised crime. Toni Servillo (Gomorrah 2008) gives a magnificent performance as Andreotti that secured him the Best Actor European Film Award. This political drama also won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in the same year. What could have been a boring subject matter is brought to the screen in an interesting and exciting way. Visually gripping, beautifully shot, skilfully edited and includes an exceptional sound track. A complex story that’s not always easy to follow and certainly warrants more than one viewing, but very highly recommend.

Cheyenne ex rock-star.

Cheyenne's wife Jane carries out her day job.

The 42 year old director’s latest movie, the first to be made in the English language, This Must Be the Place (2011) has been described by him as a ‘reckless’ piece of work by which I would take to mean something a little different, something out of the ordinary, almost a fantasy, although it bares no resemblance to Wes Andersons movies it does at times have that same quirky feel. The best way to define this film is that it’s a story of the coming of age of a 50 year-old boy-child who just so happens to have been a famous rock star.  Cheyenne leaves his mansion in Dublin to travel to America to see his dying father who he has not seen for thirty years. Following clues in a sketchbook found at the side of his estranged Jewish fathers deathbed and with a world famous Nazi hunter Mordecai Midler (Judd Hirsch) in tow he sets out to track down a Nazi war criminal that his dead father has accused of tormenting him in Auschwitz, that’s if the 90 year-old is still alive?
The strength of this road movie, shot in Dublin and America, is in the portrayal of the aging Goth Cheyenne by the brilliant Sean Penn who went out on a limb to play this unusually humorous part, for Penn at least, and choosing to work with a European director on a project that was never going to be easy, playing an interesting but complex character with a high voice and makeup!  The exceptionally cast includes the Coenesque Francis McDormand who plays Jane, Cheyenne happily married wife of 35 years, Eve Hewson, the daughter of U2’s Bono, is Mary a young Goth who is the friend and fan of our ex rock star. There’s also a Paris Texas style cameo from Harry Dean Stanton who Cheyenne meets in a diner on the American leg of his road trip and discovers he’s sitting opposite the oddball character that patented the idea of wheels on suitcases!  

Cheyenne and Jane make good use of their empty swimming pool!

Sorrentino admits that the film is based on key events in his teenage years, his love of American cinema, the music of Talking Heads, it was a David Byrne song that gave the film its name and can be seen in the film performing, and he even referenced the Cure by making the main character a Robert Smith look-a-like. This movie was not well received by the critics but I found it very entertaining in an eccentrically enjoyable way and would highly recommend it to people who enjoy their cinematic humour a little off the wall. 

Cheyenne's best friend Mary.

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