This Must Be The Place (Blu-ray Review)

This Must Be the Place whysoblu cover-001If someone were to ask me what one of the quirkiest premises for a movie was, I would probably respond with the plot for This Must Be the Place, a comedy-drama, which stars Sean Penn as a retired rock star who goes on a mission to find a Nazi criminal.  For those who just said, “Huh?”  Yes, that is the premise of this film, which I found to be surprisingly effective in what it was trying to do.  It features a strong performance from Penn, who delivers a very interesting character, unlike anything I have seen him in before and is also an interesting movie on the whole, given how it plays out.  Now the Blu-ray is available for all to check out and I think it may be worth the time of anyone who is interested by this premise or the presence of Penn in this type of role.


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Sean Penn stars as Cheyenne, a legendary goth rocker, who has been long-retired in Dublin with his wife, Jane (Frances McDormand).  Cheyenne learns his estranged father is dying and travels to New York to say some final words to him, possibly reconciling their relationship.  The problem is that Cheyenne has arrived too late, as his father passed away, before Cheyenne’s arrival.  Cheyenne takes on a new destination, however, following his discovery of his father’s unfulfilled quest for revenge against an ex-Nazi war criminal, taking refuge somewhere in America.  Cheyenne embarks upon a journey to find this criminal, traveling all over the country, and meeting a number of assorted characters along the way.

I need to emphasize that this movie has a very light touch throughout the majority of its runtime.  Yes, Penn looks ridiculous in his goth rocker garb, which has him essentially resembling a craggy version of The Cure’s Robert Smith, but the character is much more interesting and humorous than just his looks.  When we are first introduced to him, we see that he moves slowly, barely speaks above a whisper, and still has many admirers.  The film goes on to introduce this character all over middle America, which surprisingly does not have the characters reacting as over-the-top as you would think to a character that looks like Cheyenne does.  Instead, while the images of Cheyenne against countryside landscapes and colorful communities are amusing, the more insightful humor comes from the conversations he has with people, the dryness in his deliveries of lines of dialogue, and the way he attempts to learn more about where his target is located.

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With that said, there is a dramatic element in the film, which pops its head up every now and then, but especially in the final 20 minutes, where things become very reflective.  The film has an emotional factor that concerns who this character is and what he is going after, which leads to a few random surprises along the way.  Cheyenne meets significant people during his journey and they are treated accordingly, based on how they interact with him.  This is an interesting aspect of the film, as it allows us to delve into the various levels of who Cheyenne is and the film is quite engaging because of it.

In addition to Sean Penn, the film also features McDormand as his wife, who shares great chemistry with Penn in her brief part in the film; Judd Hirsch, Harry Dean Stanton, Kerry Condon, and Talking Heads’ David Byrne in a brief cameo (he also provided the score for the film).  It is an interesting cast, who all work quite well into the story, with some in particular (Hirsch) really standing out.  And speaking of standing out, visually speaking, director Paolo Sorrentino has put together a very well composed film.  There are many idyllic shots of the various locations Cheyenne visits, which feature many of the supporting actors, and it makes for a film that really wants to shine not just with what the actors are bringing to the material, but in how the film treats its story from a visual standpoint.

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Now I can easily see this lead character coming off as annoying to some viewers and the movie as something of a non-starter.  The film has a deliberate pace and relies on a lot of very dry humor (along with sight gags), meaning that the film may not appeal to all, but as I have said, this is a very quirky piece of work and I was really into the vibe that the film had to offer.  Penn is certainly the best thing about This Must Be the Place, but I enjoyed how the story played out and found it to be more interesting than simply what the basic setup suggested.


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I did not mention this enough in the review, but This Must Be the Place looks fantastic throughout, as director Paolo Sorrentino and his cinematographer really did a lot to show off the various environments that Cheyenne visits.  Fortunately, while I will get to where the Blu-ray is lacking, it is certainly not in the video department, as this 1080p AVC-encoded transfer does a great job of presenting the film in the way it needs to be seen to really grasp at the concept of this man traveling in these different areas of America.  The colors really pop and the contrasts between them and the black clothing and hair, which Cheyenne wears throughout is really solid.  The film definitely features a very strong video presentation.


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Similarly, the audio presentation does a very good job of having us hear the quiet nature of Cheyenne when he speaks, amidst the much louder aspects of this film, including the soundtrack, the louder people that he encounters, the ambient sounds, and more.  Given that this is a film about an aging rock star, it seems fairly appropriate that the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is perfectly suited to the film.  Not a whole lot else to say hear, except that this is a solid mix for a film that features a very quiet lead character.


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I really wish there was something here.  If there was ever a film that could have benefited from an interview with its star, let alone a whole commentary, it would have been this one.  But instead we get nothing.  No insight into creating this character of the film in general.  Not even a trailer in sight on this disc.


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So the final score is reflective of the lack of special features, or else it would have been higher.  I really liked what This Must Be the Place had to offer and do still wish I could have learned more about it.  With that said, the film is entirely worth the time of those who want to see an interesting, if kind of dry story, play out, let alone a great Sean Penn performance.  It helps that the audio and video presentation of the film are fantastic and really highlight key aspects about the film.  This is a film that was only in very limited release in theaters, but is now available for all and I think it is worth looking into.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.


Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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