This Must Be the Place (2011)

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Released 8-Aug-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Interviews-Cast & Crew
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 113:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paolo Sorrentino
Entertainment One Starring Sean Penn
Frances McDormand
Judd Hirsch
Eve Hewson
Kerry Condon
Harry Dean Stanton
Case ?
RPI ? Music David Byrne
Will Oldham

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Is there a more unusual film to star a big-league Hollywood actor in recent memory than This Must Be the Place by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino? For in this 2011 film Mr Serious Sean Penn gives one of his best performances in recent memory in a role which calls for equal parts comedy and drama. When was the last time that Sean Penn make you laugh?

     In This Must Be the Place Penn plays retired rock star Cheyenne, a cross between Robert Smith of The Cure and Ozzy Osbourne. Though he has played barely a note in the last 20 years Cheyenne still gets up in the morning and puts on his Gothic make-up, teased black hair and lipstick. He lives in a mansion in Ireland with his wife Jane (Frances McDormand) who is, of all things, a firefighter! Cheyenne's best friend is a teenage Gothic girl Mary (Eve Hewson, daughter of Bono of U2). The basis of their relationship is not really spelt out, just one of the many in this distinctly offbeat film. Cheyenne lives in a kind of stupefaction, his relationship with his wife is strong and yet he does not seem to have moved forward from his rock star days.

     When he receives a call that his father is in his deathbed Cheyenne returns to America to see a man he has not spoken to in 30 years. Unfortunately, he arrives too late and his father has passed. In his grief he picks up a quest to find the old Nazi who humiliated his father in a prisoner of war camp in World War II. So begins a freewheeling journey through America as he hunts his prey from place to place and state to state. His journey brings him into contact with friends, neighbours and relatives of the old man and his friend David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. Small character performances pop up throughout including great actors such as Judd Hirsch, Joyce van Patten, Harry Dean Stanton and Kerry Condon.

     This free-wheeling film moves often sharply between comedy and melancholy and the inclusion of Holocaust themes will immediately set some people’s teeth on edge. Fair enough, but this is at times an inspired film that will benefit from repeated viewings. Apparently there is more than one cut of the film floating around. Longer would be better as it never outstays its welcome.

     This Must Be the Place is an odd film and one which will perhaps have limited appeal. Although it had a short cinema run in Australia it has not yet had a proper release in the US. I wonder what they will make of it? Director Sorrentino says, in the interviews which form part of the extras to this DVD, that the film is a coming-of-age story about a 50-year-old man. For those with a love of the offbeat This Must Be the Place is the perfect antidote to superhero overflow.

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Transfer Quality


     This Must Be the Place comes to DVD in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is consistent with the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     Cinematographer Luca Bigazzi does a marvellous job capturing the beauty of America. From the cities and suburbs to the plains and snow-covered mountains this is a beautifully shot film which has been transferred with delicacy and precision to DVD. No doubt if a Blu-ray of the film is ever released in this Region it will improve the visual quality, but no one could be disappointed at the way this DVD looks.

     The image quality is sharp. The flesh tones, including Penn's pasty white make up, are accurate. The colours are bright and vibrant. Shadows are deep and the blacks are suitably inky.

    There are no technical problems with the transfer. Compression is not a problem and a no artefacts to be seen.

    There are subtitles in English For the Hearing-Impaired.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     This Must Be the Place carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 448 Kb/s.

     Most of the sounds in the film emanate from the centre channel however there is still a pleasing ambience to be found in the surround sound track. The sub-woofer does not have a great deal to do but gently supports the track.

     Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand throughout. I say "generally" because Cheyenne's delivery is generally in a high-pitched, mumbling monotone. It does take a little bit of work to understand his dialogue.

     The film is named after the Talking Heads song This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) from the album Speaking in Tongues. It is one of those tunes that reaches up and grabs you and has been covered by noted bands including, as is pointed out in the film, The Arcade Fire.The song itself features throughout the film in various guises, including a mind-blowing performance by Byrne himself. David Byrne was also engaged to provide the soundtrack for the film. It is interesting throughout.

     There are a number of original songs for which the lyrics were provided by Will Oldham otherwise known as Bonnie Prince Billy. These songs perfectly suit the film.

    There are no technical problems with the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are a few extras provided with this DVD.

Deleted Scenes

     There are a number of deleted scenes on offer. No doubt they were excluded for time reasons. One particularly funny scene shows why Cheyenne, who has a fear of flying, decides to travel from Ireland to America by boat. Most of the scenes are fairly short snippets.


     The director Paolo Sorrentino and several cast members are interviewed including Eve Hewson, Judd Hirsch and Kerry Condon. David Byrne also gets an interview. Unfortunately there are no interviews with Sean Penn or Frances McDormand. Essentially interviews delve into the characters and their involvement/joy of working with the director and <>Sean Penn. David Byrne tells an interesting story about the night when he decided to invite audience members up on stage to get married during the concert and Kerry Condon talks about her experience of meeting Sean Penn. Apparently all their communications on set and off was in character!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   Buy Region 4. The film is the same in Region 2 UK and is yet to be released in the US.


     This Must Be the Place is a curious, strange film combining the quirky with a serious in a way that recalls early 80s independent cinema. Many Internet "critics" have taken the film to task for the use of Holocaust themes and also the film’s steadfast refusal to explain itself. Rest assured these are at the very core of its charms.

    The DVD quality is excellent and the extras though brief are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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