This Must Be the Place

by Karin McKie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday March 22, 2013

This Must Be the Place

Like The Cure's Robert Smith, Sean Penn teases his jet-black hair up and out, smears his lips red, kohls his melancholy eyes and whispers like a little girl in the surprisingly refreshing "This Must Be the Place."

Named after the Talking Heads song, and featuring singer David Byrne as himself and as the film's composer (showcasing many versions of the tune), the innovative story follows retired Goth rocker Cheyenne (Penn) from his Irish estate back to the States for his estranged father's funeral.

Recluse Cheyenne leaves his firefighter wife Jane (the ever-fabulous Frances McDormand) - telling her to "take it easy on the tai chi" - on a ship bound for New York (he's afraid to fly, among other things), and ends up hunting the Nazi that humiliated his dad at Auschwitz.

Cheyenne treks westward through small-town America, from a statue of the largest pistachio to a well-stocked gun shop. He connects with strangers (including Harry Dean Stanton) during his quest, rolling his wheelie bag all the way, noticing that "Nobody works anymore. Everybody does something artistic."

Paolo Sorrentino's film is quiet and smooth, just like the straight-shooting plain talk from the man living in arrested development. Cheyenne is lonely and childless because he thinks "rock stars shouldn't have kids, because their daughters might grow up to be wacky stylists."

My college boyfriend Rob used to dedicate the song, subtitled "Naïve Melody," to me when his band Animal Logic covered it, and the lyrics still hit the spot: "Home is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there." Cheyenne also looks back, constantly blowing wispy tendrils off his face, saying, "We go from an age when we say 'My life will be that' to 'That's life.'"

"This Must Be the Place"



Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at