This Must Be The Place - Blu-ray Review

'Penn, who plays retired goth rocker Cheyenne, speaks with a drawn out nasally whine, which can really drag its fingernails down your chalkboard.'

One of the most intriguing coming-of-age/finding yourself narratives I've seen for some time, Paolo Sorrentino's This Must Be The Place feels refreshing and well composed. There's not just the fact that his film stars Sean Penn in ridiculous amounts of make-up; This Must Be The Place really overloads on innovative story and bizarre quirk. Witness the distinctively odd scene in which Penn and on-screen wife Frances McDormand get dressed for sport and go and play a handball-type game in the empty pool of their large house.

Of course, as any seasoned watcher of Indie film will tell you, a little bit of quirk goes a long way, and maybe Sorrentino's film verges on giving you too much on occasion. Penn, who plays retired goth rocker Cheyenne, speaks with a drawn out nasally whine, which can really drag its fingernails down your chalkboard. McDormand seems to be playing a version of all of her Coen Brothers characters, and sometimes the two of them can have a bit too much inverted chic for their own good.

Largely though, Sorrentino gives his characters enough to do so that you're not forced into focusing on their foibles. Absent from his father's life for many years, Cheyenne goes home just as he passes away, where he inherits a collection of papers apparently pointing to the location of the Nazi who humiliated him during the war.

Off Cheyenne goes, ever-present wheeled suitcase in tow, stopping off for a touching selection of scenes with Rachel (Kerry Condon) and an odd meeting with a luggage aficionado (Harry Dean Stanton). This Must Be The Place becomes an episodic search for existence, as much as a Nazi hunter narrative and it's telling that the character who has made their living searching for said evil presence (Judd Hirsch), doesn't come back into the film till the closing moments.

Where perhaps lesser films would struggle into insignificance, every one of these small moments in Cheyenne's life is brought to us beautifully, with excellent work from Penn, completely convincing as a recovering rocker, deeply in need of some real life interaction. He gets it, from Condon (also superb) and others and This Must Be The Place heads to a location swathed in emotion and interest, neatly avoiding so many clich├ęs of the 'finding yourself' sub-genre.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.


  1. Great review! You summed it up perfectly. I thought the character of Cheyenne was really interesting, but this movie felt all over the place to me. I enjoyed it for the most part, I just wished it had been a little more focused.

    1. The odd quirky bits were odd, yeah but they really worked for me. Felt it was at least consistently odd! Seem to have hugely enjoyed this more than most though, I admit, was actually quite close to giving it 5!