Release Date(s)2011 (March 12, 2013)
Studio(s)Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: F
From the director of Il Divo, Paolo Sorrentino, This Must Be the Place tells the story of an aging Robert Smith-type character, whom after quitting the music business and living in privacy for many years, takes a trip across U.S. to visit his dying father and track down a former Nazi officer who humiliated his father in his youth.
One thing’s for sure about The Must Be the Place: it’s not your usual type of film-going experience. 10 or 15 minutes into this film I began to wonder what it was that was going to be so engaging about it. I had heard good things, but none of them were present enough for me to fall into it. And then Sean Penn captivated me without knowing it. It sounds like pretentious critique I know, but it’s true. I found his character sort of mesmerizing when put in all of these different locations and in various situations. It’s amazing how attuned his character is to everything around him yet still looks at all of it with blissful ignorance and the wanting to understand. He reminded me of Forrest Gump in that way. Not that his character is mentally-handicapped, but you do get the impression that the man lived life very hard and he’s wiser for it, as well as a bit silly. He’s very funny and quite melancholy, and you follow him on his journey, fascinated all the way through. It’s not an emotional journey, but more of an awareness of the world and what he takes away from it.
And you can’t talk about this film without talking about the music, which comes from a variety of sources, mostly from David Byrne. I’m not a great Talking Heads or David Byrne fan per se, but I am familiar with it and I do like it. I think it’s part of the reason why I enjoyed the film so much and found it much easier to sit through. The soundtrack soothed me into trotting along with it. I wouldn’t call it eclectic, but it’s not altogether diverse either. It’s mainly soothing rock tunes set against a very odd story. The performances are very good and the cinematography is beautiful, as well. I’m sure some will find it boring, but I found it rich enough with character to keep my interest alive in it. A lot of it is Sean Penn’s performance, which is all its own thing. Sean Penn usually delivers a terrific performance, and with a solid director at the helm, the film helped me appreciate both Penn and the story even more.
This Must Be the Place comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay, clocking in at 111 minutes. The Cannes Film Festival cut of the film was 118 minutes, so we may see a future release down the road if this particular release does well enough. But for now, this seems to be the definitive cut of the film. As for the video presentation, it’s quite astounding. It’s been color-timed to appear very warm, but the colors and the image detail are amazing. There’s a great depth to the images, especially in the latter half of the film when we see the wide open spaces of the mid-west. Blacks are deep and inky and the contrast suits the film well. Every fine line of age and detail on Sean Penn’s weathered face is extremely clear and sharp. The only flaw I could find, which is very minor, was some light banding. It was noticeable, but wasn’t an overt distraction. Otherwise, it’s a near flawless transfer.
The audio is just as impressive. You get only one option, English 5.1 DTS-HD, but it’s really all you’ll need. It’s very centered with the dialogue and the soundscapes that dominate the surround speakers include plenty of ambience and the score, as well. The music, as I mentioned before, is very good and keeps the soundtrack’s heart beating tremendously. It’s very low-key, like the track playing during the end credits, Gavin Friday’s “Lord I’m Coming,” which was a particular highlight for me and a perfect way to close the film out. The main score by both David Byrne and Will Oldham is very effective, as well. It’s not a soundtrack that’s aggressive, but it envelopes the listener quite well. Overall, it’s a very well-balanced soundtrack. There are also subtitles in English SDH and Spanish for those who might need them.
Sadly there are no extras whatsoever with this release. I can’t say as I’m surprised though. It’s not a very consumer-friendly film. I would hope that this release would be a nice test-drive for it to see how it goes and find a receptive audience. I would like to see the stuff that was taken out for the wide release, plus some behind-the-scenes material. Thankfully, it’s a very good film and the lack of extras doesn’t make me very upset. This Must Be the Place is one you have to experience first, and with this Blu-ray release, you can’t go wrong.
- Tim Salmons