So the BFI London Film Festival is over for another year. I managed to catch thirty-five films this year, as well as a smattering of press conferences and a round table interview. Having seen less than a quarter of the films shown throughout the festival, I have undoubtedly missed some gems. With this in mind, the following is a very brief appraisal of the festival.
The Best Films I Saw: The Artist, Shame, The Ides of March
The Films That Were As Good As Expected: This Must Be the Place, Headhunters, Martha Marcy May Marlene
The Unexpected Gem: The Monk
The Films I Wish I Had Seen: 50/50, Nobody Else But You
The Film I Wish I Could Unsee: Shock Head Soul
Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must Be the Place is a funny and poignant drama. An imperfect film, This Must Be the Place is an absorbing endeavour nevertheless.
Cheyenne is a former rock star who now lives with his wife in Ireland. He has a routine existence, seeing the same people and visiting the same places. When he learns his father is ailing, Cheyenne travels to America for the first time in many years. Finding out about his father’s trauma during World War II, Cheyenne embarks on a mission to find his father’s persecutor, now living under an assumed name in the United States…
This Must Be the Place is an interesting character study. The film carefully unwraps the character of Cheyenne; and charts his development through the course of the narrative. The protagonist is interesting from the beginning because of his appearance and mannerisms. What sustains the audience’s attention is watching the character gently evolve as he finds out more about himself and his relationship with others.
There are some great amusing moments in This Must Be the Place, which are greatly complimented by the film’s more poignant episodes. The film does slack a bit in the second half; it could have easily been trimmed down. Nevertheless, Sorrentino’s film is still engaging.
Sean Penn offers a memorable performance as Cheyenne. Penn is engrossing as the aging former rock star, with a performance that steals the viewer’s attention. Good support is provided by Frances McDormand and Judd Hirsch. This Must Be the Place is a little unusual, but well worth the watch.
This Must Be the Place is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.