This Must Be The Place (2011)

Director:Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch

Response bias is a type of cognitive bias which can affect the results of a statistical survey if respondents answer questions in the way they think the questioner wants them to answer rather than according to their true beliefs. This may occur if the questioner is obviously angling for a particular answer (as in push polling) or if the respondent wishes to please the questioner by answering what appears to be the “morally right” answer“. (from

What does this definition have to do with the film? Well, after watching This Must Be the Place, I feel like I am the “respondent”, “the questioner” and the society establishing the “morally right” answer. Thing is: I don’t like the director, Paolo Sorrentino. I mean, he’s technically skilled and creative, but I just can’t stand the way he “builds” the stories. In every movie he tries to be metaphorical, hyper-intellectual, poetic, theatrical, whatever. I just don’t like it.
As for This Must be the Place… I really don’t know. Everyone says it’s a good movie, much more accessible than the rest of Sorrentino’s filmography. But again, I saw too much of the director’s self-importance in the film. Lines sounded more like a list of nice and highbrow aphorisms, rather than dialogues. Everything was so aesthetically crafted that it looked fake to me. It was the director showing his skills, rather than telling a story. Which, by the way, could have been really good.
Sean Penn plays Cheyenne, a retired 80’s rock star wich lives in  own world of boredom and numbness. Until the death of his father. Then he sets out to find his father’s executioner, an ex-Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the U.S. Again, everyone says that Sean Penn’s performance is extraordinary. But I don’t see that neither. To me, it’s just like an imitation of  Robert James Smith, Ozzie Osbourne and Edward Scissor Hand. There’s nothing original in Cheyenne.

I know that because of my responsive bias, my opinion is not objective. So tell me, you reader: what’s the truth about this film? Also, in general, do you have any other responsive bias too, towards directors, actors, producers, etc.?

PS: speaking of imitation… seen the film poster at the beginning of this article? Does it look familiar? It could be… Here’s a hint:


7 comments on “This Must Be The Place (2011)

  1. I know we’re at odds over this one, but you’ve articulated almost exactly how I feel about Hereafter and the bulk of Eastwood’s directorial work. In his case though I don’t think it’s so much he’s showing off his skills – I think he really believes in what he does – but the ” metaphorical, hyper-intellectual, poetic, theatrical, whatever,” reminds me of how I feel when I watch his stuff: like he wants it to be a lot deeper than it is, a lot deeper than he’s capable of being, and because he focuses on this aspect he misses the mark on just telling a good story.

    • Jersey says:

      I got what you mean. I didn’t quite love Hereafter or Invictus. I thought they were ok, but generally I prefer the “tough Clint”, the one from The Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby or Gran Torino, for instance. But I wouldn’t apply to Eastwood the adjectives I used for Sorrentino. I’d rather say that sometimes he lets too much romance get in the way… But those are all personal impressions!

      Thanks for sharing, Iris!

  2. such a delusion… you know I love him, but this one is like a wannabe.Wes-Anderson… its just a self-celebration of Sorrentino…

  3. Jaina says:

    I’ve not seen this film yet, sadly nothing about it really intrigues me enough to want to see it.

    I don’t think I’ve got much of a bias towards actors/directors. Sure, I might pop along to see a film down to a particular director or actor. So, maybe that is a bias! I am getting a growing negative bias towards Tarantino and Rodriguez though. Mostly down to my belief in that these are two talented directors who don’t push the boundaries anymore. They’ve found their style and think it’s good enough for them to stick to it. Makes me a little sad.

    • Jersey says:

      The “It has to be good” bias! Shall we call it this way?

      I don’t particularly like Rodriguez, but I don’t mind Tarantino sticking to “his role”… as long as he doesn’t exaggerate like in “Grindhouse”!!!

  4. I do not agree. I think that the sort of “manierism” in this film is a plus, we have too much stories e so little images in movies nowadays. A director who has such specific and particular point of view of the world it’s just special itself.
    I liked really much this movie just because it is beautiful to watch, there are so many symmetries and has a so beautiful cinematography. I don’t know, I was just enthusiast after having seen it and I don’t think this in because of my bias, when a movie is ugly and not well directed I’ve no problem to say even if I love an actor or a director…
    (I think my english in this post is really bad, sorry to everyone!)

    • Jersey says:

      The thing is, I think that images can sometimes suffocate a weak story. And this looks looks like the case… Too much attention to the composition, and everything else is lost. I like films with a good story first of all. All the rest, is just a plus.

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