Sean Penn affects a high-pitched, soft-spoken voice as retired rock-star Cheyenne in the new trailer for “This Must Be the Place”, an upcoming dramedy co-written and directed by Italian helmer Paolo Sorrentino (“Il Divo”) that also stars Frances McDormand and Judd Hirsch. The film, which was picked up by the Weinstein Co. following its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, follows a former goth-rocker as he sets out on a road trip to track down the Nazi war criminal who made his recently-deceased father’s life a living hell during WWII.
With his sullen demeanor, white makeup, Goth attire and head of long, inky-black hair (Cheyenne was partially based on The Cure frontman Robert Smith), Penn’s quirky lead performance in the film is at the forefront of the trailer, which also succeeds in showcasing Sorrentino’s stylized, Wes Anderson-esque visual aesthetic to good effect. It also sets up the film’s unusual and compelling premise clearly and distinctly – key in marketing a film that doesn’t exactly exude mainstream appeal.
The use of laugh lines, too, is effective – “Do you know about the Holocaust?” “In a general sort of way.” “And your father? Did you know your father?” “In a general sort of way.” – and in a film named after a Talking Heads song, it was smart to highlight the fact that Sorrentino actually got former TH frontman David Byrne to both star as himself in the movie and write original music for it. Quite a coup.
I’ll admit that there’s something undeniably “Sundance Lab”-by about “This Must Be the Place”, but I still think the trailer does a pretty good job of setting up the film’s overall tone and in selling its peculiar but intriguing set-up.
My grade for the trailer: “A-“. After watching it below, be sure and rate it for yourself at top left!
“This Must Be the Place” is expected to hit theaters sometime next year.