This Must Be the Pace is deemed a financial failure but Chalmette Movies rescued it from oblivion. Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino’s movie has an illogical premise. A retired and mildly depressed rock star from the 80s tries to redeem his self by becoming a self-styled Nazi hunter on a journey across America.
A lot of the suspension of disbelief is in the hands of Sean Penn, who plays Cheyenne. He is the former leader of the fictional bank Cheyenne and the Fellows. The character looks like he is modeled from the Cure’s Robert Smith.
At the start of This Must Be the Place, we see Cheyenne applying red lipstick and black nail polish. He is a soft spoken man-child whose life was derailed by several fans who took his melancholy songs to heart. He is the last person you will think of who could go on a Nazi hunt, even if it is for his deceased father. But if you can look past the nature of the character, then you’ll get a sad, sweet and satisfying road movie.
This Must Be the Place got its title from an offbeat love song by the Talking Heads. Several versions of the song are heard throughout the movie. It sets the tone, especially the warm and spirited version performed live in the film by David Byrne and his current band. Byrne collaborated with indie rock icon Will Oldham on several songs for the movie that serve as rough demos for a fictional band who wants to hire Cheyenne as producer. Byrne plays himself as Cheyenne’s old friend in one of the most memorable scenes in the film. Cheyenne bares his soul to Byrne and it makes all the illogical stuff easier to swallow.
This Must Be the Place benefits from director Sorrentino’s lush visual style. This is his first English language movie and yet he manages to get a grasp of American heartland. The wide open spaces as well as Cheyenne’s chance encounters with oddball character makes the more enjoyable for the viewers.