This Must Be the Place
Fame is a lot like alcohol. A controlled life with distinction can lead one to personal happiness. But if one was too far over his head with ego, then their failure can become their worst enemy. Their self-esteem has drove them into making the choices that isolate them ironically in a world where they can still be recognized. I have heard many stories about celebrities (like Liza Minnelli or Christian Slater) that were once on top of the world, only to become forgotten and left as kings in their imaginary worlds. What was once polished is now dirtied with whatever remains of their lives.
I would hope that these people could stop holding onto the past and find something else productive. The usual case I see is starting a business or a charity. I admire these folks for at least trying something that they may not be familiar with, but their providing something for the mainstream public that they love. But even then, I’ve seen them take up other interests like art and even science. I’m sure Macaulay Culkin has made some great paintings (I’m serious, he’s an artist now). Revenge isn’t something I would consider productive, but it seems to interest an old rock star in This Must Be the Place.
Glam Rocker Cheyenne (played by Sean Penn) was once a passionate singer in the seventies through the eighties, but has now retired. Rather then having succumbed to drugs and sex, he has married a nice woman and is living in a nice home in Dublin, Ireland. Despite having a good group of friends and nice things, he has become jaded about his faded image, yet, he no desire to return to the stage. Upon hearing that his father is dying back in America, he heads home to make peace.
His departure was a little too late as he finds his father has passed away already. This makes Cheyenne feel worse as he had not gotten the chance to make peace with him, as the rock star life was the message to spite him. He then learns more about his fathers past during WWII as a member of the tragic persecution in Auschwitz. Cheyenne learns that his father suffered at the hands of SS Officer Alois Lange and is still living somewhere in the United States. Cheyenne decides to put closure on his father by taking an American road trip to find and kill the former Nazi.
Given than this is a story about a rock star looking to kill a Nazi, this sounds like a B-movie comedy. Nope. This movie takes a dramatic, though somewhat black comedy approach as the story is really about Cheyenne coming to terms about who he is at this point in life. He knows he’s different from where he it was years ago, yet the rocker style he sports is still prominent in his system. He want’s to let go, but he doesn’t know how. This is actually a movie that’s better then you might think.
Sean Penn is not even Sean Penn. In a performance that could have been Oscar worthy, he plays a man who looks like he reeks of twenty-year-old makeup and sweat. He makes is childlike banter to the people he meets across the country like Ozzy Osbourne would. Speaking of which, it’s hard to believe that this movie was directed by a non-American making his first English film. You wouldn’t tell by how authentic this feels to the representation of classic Americana. The people feel real and the two-dollar dinars look authentic. If there’s anything wrong is that the plot does take a while to get going. I think that the first forty-five minutes are used to show Cheyenne’s life as it is. True, they do need to establish this guy’s character, but I think they could have moved some elements for later in the story and get this rocker hunter quicker.
I’ll give this four and a half glam rock wigs out of five. For something that probably should have been a comedy, I thought it was pretty good. This Must Be the Place feels like that little bit of glam rock that is showing it still has life, even if nobody is listening.