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File: This Must Be The Place
This Must Be the Place is a 2011 drama film directed by Paolo Sorrentino, written by Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello.
It stars Sean Penn and Frances McDormand. The film deals with a middle-aged wealthy rock star who becomes bored in his retirement and takes on the quest of finding his father's tormentor, a Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the United States.
Cheyenne (Sean Penn) is a wealthy former rock star, now bored and jaded in his retirement in Dublin. He travels to New York to reconcile with his estranged father during his final hours, only to arrive too late. After learning the true extent of his father's humiliation in Auschwitz at the hands of former SS Officer Aloise Lange, Cheyenne begins a journey across the country to track down Lange, who is now hiding out in America.
Paolo Sorrentino said Sean Penn told him he wanted to work with him after seeing Sorrentino's film Il Divo at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, where Penn headed the jury. With Penn in mind, Sorrentino wrote the screenplay for This Must Be the Place with Umberto Contarello. Sorrentino had for a long time been fascinated by Nazi war criminals who had managed to keep their former crimes secret, and went on to live ordinary lives. To add an element of irony to a story about such a person, Sorrentino came up with Penn's character: "a slow, lazy, rock star who was bored enough and closed in his self-referential world to the point of being, seemingly, the last person who would embark on a crazy search for a Nazi criminal, probably dead by now, across the United States." Sorrentino was attracted to this juxtaposition as it would add a great risk of failure, which he considers vital for the prospect of a story to be good. In selecting the name of the rock star and his band Sorrentino thought of one of the most inspired names in rock star history, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and changed it somewhat to come up with "Cheyenne and the Fellows". The look of the character was inspired by Robert Smith of The Cure. Sorrentino had seen The Cure perform several times in his youth, and when he went to see them again in 2008, he was fascinated by the fact that Smith, even off the stage, still wore the same kind of attire as in the past: "Here was a fifty-year-old who still completely identified with a look which, by definition, is that of an adolescent. But there was nothing pathetic about it. There was just this one thing that, in the movies and in life, creates an incredible feeling of wonder: the extraordinary, a unique and thrilling exception." As soon as the screenplay was finished, Sorrentino sent it to Penn, who accepted to star.
This Must Be the Place was Sorrentino's first film to be shot in English. The film had a production budget of US$28 million. Production was led by the three Italian companies Indigo Film, Lucky Red and Medusa Film. Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo invested €2.5 million ($3 million) in the film, while Eurimages provided €600,000 ($750,000) in funding. The film also received funding from France and Ireland.
Principal photography began on 16 August 2010 in Dublin, Ireland. In September, production moved to Michigan where filming took place in Bad Axe, Ubly, Kinde and Sterling Heights. Filming in New Mexico began in October and took place in Bingham, Alamogordo, Carrizozo, Eagle Nest, Red River and Questa. In late October, filming took place in New York City. Post-production took place in Rome.
Original music for the film was written by David Byrne of Talking Heads. The title of the film is a tribute to the Talking Heads song "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)". The original songs for the film are co-written with indie singer-songwriter Will Oldham. New York-based singer Michael Brunnock sings these songs. The songs were not sung by Penn but by another person in the film.
The film premiered on 20 May 2011 in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival.
The film showed in the Spotlight section of the Sundance Film Festival, January 2012.
Jay Weissberg of Variety called This Must Be the Place "that rare film directed by a non-American that gets not just the locales but also the cadence of the language absolutely right, with a script full of great lines and images of lingering beauty." Weissberg continued: "Like all great directors who make a road movie, Sorrentino captures the physical location as well as the inner transformation. Sorrentino's America is a varied nation, one where Barack Obama and Sarah Palin spring from the same soil, and where narrow-minded history teachers (Joyce Van Patten) and welcoming war widows (Kerry Condon) have an equal place. He gets it, just as he gets the Holocaust's omnipresence in the lives of those affected, revealing the tragedy without dwelling on the horror." Regarding the acting, Weissberg wrote that "Penn's flawless performance has none of the mannered intensity that can mar his work, transcending the masklike qualities of eyeliner and lipstick with deadpan, childlike candor."
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