Wed 14 Nov 2012
This Must Be the Place is one of the weirdest Holocaust movies ever made. So weird and so different that I doubt that it will find place in the usual re-programing of the TV stations on such commemorative moments as the Holocaust Day. Yet it is at the same time one of the most human and moving film on the theme of the second generation, the one of the children of the Holocaust survivors that I have ever seen.
Sean Penn‘s Cheyenne is an aging Gothic rocker, whose greatest success dates two decades back, but was enough to grant him a life of luxury for the rest of his days, and even some fame when walking the local Irish malls. No doubt, he looks like an aging rock star, and Penn’s creation makes me wonder how could the Oscar avoid him this year (and I am not a registered fan of Penn, believe it or not). Something happens and this is his father’s death, and the trip to the New York Jewish area meets him back with the family he left, maybe he ran of, the life he quit, and the history of the family. This history hides something he was not aware about – the suffering and the humiliation that his father experienced during the Holocaust. What makes out of Cheyenne a Nazi hunter, what causes him to engage in a trip that reminds Jim Jarmusch‘s Broken Flowers across America to catch and revenge his father’s tormentor remains a mystery. It is not the only mystery of the film, but all becomes credible and makes sense not on the logic but on the emotional plan. It’s more then just emotion, it is resonance. Penn’s character fills not only the screen, it follows you after the end credits, with his straight and naive logic and belief in truth, with his strange but yet so human way of talking and behaving.
There are several beautiful and memorable scenes in this film. The relation of Cheyenne with the younger girl, older woman and her missing son which is never completely explained. The meeting with another old rocker and the concert by David Byrne (in a cameo appearance). The guitar piece with the kid he meets on the road. The confrontation with his father’s tormentor and the almost human justification of the later. Director Paolo Sorrentino, as well as his cinematography, sound, musical teams do a fine and discrete job. A film to search for and to watch.