This Must Be the Place
Directed by Paulo Sorrentino
Cornerhouse, 14 April 2012
Sean Penn is a sad clown.
When a pop star, these teenagers killed themselves on listening to a depressive song he wrote – that made his cheery visage go walkabout. He blames himself for their deaths. And there’s more. His estranged father, a holocaust survivor, dies and though Cheyenne (Penn’s character) never knew him, not really, on his death he goes in search of a Nazi war criminal. By playing PI, Cheyenne becomes happy once more. That’s job done, by any reckoning, though it doesn’t make an awful lot of psychological sense.
All this detail is by way of warning: expect teary-eyed acting, heavy unearned emoting. Well, what else would you get from a Hollywood star in a Holocaust movie?
It’s not a good film: too many unwarranted tears, too much faux-surreal quirkiness, probably also too much Sean Penn. In the end, you feel that it’s been more about adding a Holocaust film to Penn’s CV than engaging or involving the viewer. Disappointing.