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This Must Be the Place

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For his first narrative feature since the unforgettable Il Divo, director Paolo Sorrentino once again turns out an epic account of a passive subject. This tack worked when used to illustrate the life of a nondescript, hunchbacked dwarf who quietly ran roughshod over Italian politics for almost 50 years. The same can't be said when it's applied to a zonked-out American rock legend sequestered in Dublin who decides to return to New York, bent on killing the Nazi war criminal responsible for the humiliation his recently deceased father endured during the war. As the wealthy former hair-band frontman Cheyenne, Sean Penn looks like a cross between Howard Stern and my aunt Helene. It's his idea of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, recast as a reclusive rocker with a faltering falsetto. I was, however, never bored: with Il Divo cinematographer Luca Bigazzi and editor Cristiano Travaglioli back on board, there's always something to look at. And of the four Holocaust-themed films I've endured in November of 2012, this was the easiest to take. It's just that Il Divo was my favorite film of 2008, and after a four-year wait, This Must Be the Place didn't make my list. With Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, Joyce Van Patten, and, in his third film of the year, a triumphantly resuscitated Harry Dean Stanton! (2012) — Scott Marks

Rated R | 1 hour, 58 minutes
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