Saturday 24 March 2018

How penn's rock star comedy found a home in dublin

Paolo Sorrentino on why the capital became the place

When the award-winning Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino needed a home for his faded rock star in This Must Be The Place, he knew it had to be a city where a middle-aged, lipstick-toting, scarecrow-haired Goth with an ever-present shopping trolley wouldn't look out of place.

Naturally, he chose Dublin.

"I was searching London for a shooting location," says Sorrentino, who broke through internationally with 2008's Oscar-nominated Il Divo. "And then I came to Dublin, and I knew, straight away, that we had to shoot the film here. Dublin is melancholic, just like my main character.

"I love Dublin, such a beautiful city. The tide, the streets, the people ... "

In This Must Be The Place (from a 1983 Talking Heads song), retired rocker Cheyenne (Sean Penn, right) has spent the past few years in a purple haze, dividing his time between shuffling around Dublin, having coffee with teenage confidante Mary (Eve Hewson), and being mothered at the mansion he shares with his firefighter wife Jane (Frances McDormand).


It all began when Paolo Sorrentino saw Robert Smith waiting to go onstage with his band The Cure: full make-up, baggy black clothing, floppy white shirt and a big, uncombed head of hair.

"Well, Robert Smith and myself are the real inspirations. But we all have an idea of the jaded old rock star trying to live an ordinary life."

Not content with weaving in a father-son plotline to his rock star burn-out tale, Sorrentino included the Holocaust too. When Cheyenne's father passes, the rebel suddenly has a cause, setting out to track down the former Nazi officer who had made his life hell.

"How did I sell this movie?" ponders Sorrentino. "Very simple -- the movie is mostly a comedy, and it's unusual to see Sean Penn in a funny way."

The casting of Eve Hewson, the daughter of Paul and Ali Hewson, aka Bono and his missus, as Cheyenne's teen buddy only adds to the mischief.

"All the casting was part of the music, magic and mischief of the movie," he states, "but everyone involved is there because they proved to be the best person for the role. Irish actors are absolutely the best in the world. "

Paul Byrne

This Must Be The Place opens next Friday

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