This Must Be the Place

  • 15
  • Paolo Sorrentino (2011)
  • It / Fr / Ire
  • 113 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
2 out of 5

A retired pop star living a reclusive existence in Dublin finds renewed purpose after his father's death returns him to the United States, in this first English-language offering from acclaimed Italian writer/director Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo). An almost unrecognisable Sean Penn sports black eyeliner and a back-combed goth hairdo as the central character, delivering a witty and endearing performance that almost makes amends for the film's wayward storytelling. Penn is surprisingly believable as a childlike lost soul confronting his family's connection to the darkest recesses of 20th-century history, yet Sorrentino's drama proves a dismayingly disjointed affair whose ultimate purpose is somewhat perplexing. With Frances McDormand's game turn as Penn's firefighter spouse, notable music from ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and Sorrentino's stylish images of America's kitschy heartland, the movie's constituent elements are nearly always striking, yet somehow they never add up to anything that speaks clearly to the head or the heart. This has to go down as a misfire from a maverick talent.

Plot Summary

Premiere. A goth rock star living a reclusive retirement in Ireland goes to New York to visit his dying father. The deathbed reunion leads to revelations about his parent's experiences during the Holocaust, and propels the sheltered rocker into a journey across America in search of a Nazi war criminal. Comedy drama, starring Sean Penn and Frances McDormand.

Cast and crew


Sean Penn
Frances McDormand
Mordecai Midler
Judd Hirsch
Eve Hewson
Kerry Condon
Robert Plath
Harry Dean Stanton
Dorothy Shore
Joyce Van Patten
David Byrne
David Byrne
Mary's mother
Olwen Fouéré
Ernie Ray
Shea Whigham


Paolo Sorrentino

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Trinity Filmed Entertainment
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 6 Apr 2012
Certificate 15