Film Corner!

What in Fascination Street hell is this?! I mean, I rationally understand it's a teaser trailer for Sean Penn's upcoming film This Must Be the Place, in which he plays Cheyenne, a "bored, retired rock star [who] sets out to find his father's executioner, an ex-Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the US," but, seriously, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?

Close-up on Sean Penn, costumed as an aging goth rocker, making a face that I can only assume is meant to be an impression of a wounded baby bird. In voiceover, he says in an affected high voice with a strange cadence, "My father is dying of old age—a nonexistent disease—and I haven't flown in thirty years." Cut to Frances McDormand standing in a large garden, wearing what looks to be a firefighter's coat. Sean Penn walks across the expansive green toward her, pulling a suitcase behind him. "Fear of flying isn't your only problem," says Frances McDormand, in voiceover. "That's true," says Sean Penn, petulantly, in voiceover. "I also have a mild fear of dying."

Now, not in voiceover, Frances McDormand says to him, "You can't die until you sell off those Tesco shares." Sean Penn, staring at his feet, gives a little laugh. She gives a little laugh back. "What will you do while I'm away?" he asks, still shoegazing. "The usual things," she replies. "Take it easy on the tai chi," he tells her, turning to face her at last. They kiss, and he pats her shoulder awkwardly.

"Jane, can I ask you something?" he says. "Sure, honey, what?" she says. "Why did you let an architect write 'cuisine' on the kitchen wall? It's silly—I know it's the kitchen." The nonsequiturial asking of this question in an innocently perplexed tone is almost certainly intended to be whimsically idiosyncratic, but Sean Penn misses the mark by a country mile and comes across less "charming eccentric" than "creepy man-child."

Frances McDormand smiles, like the mother of a child who just asked an adorably precocious question, or Dr. X having his heartstrings tugged by a child begging him not to blow up the earth. She reaches out and smooths his hair, chuckling. "Please come back to me soon. You know I can't live without you." She zips up his back hoodie. "That's not true," he says, "but it's kind of you to say."

The camera pulls up and back, revealing that they are standing at the edge of an empty inground pool, at the bottom of which lies a dog wearing a chew-prevention collar.
So, here's the thing: We're clearly meant to receive this character as some sort of known archetype, as if there are loads of pale-faced, smeared make-up, fuck-coiffed, dark-haired, dark-dressed, soft-spoken, happily married aging goth rockers wandering about the countryside of the British Isles, but NO THERE AREN'T. There is only Robert Smith.

(And if there are any others, they're nicking Bob's shtick, too.)

Listen, makers of This Must Be the Place: Don't ape an icon and expect me to pretend that it's a classic archetype peeing on my leg!

This looks like the sort of film I'd really enjoy if Sean Penn weren't in it.

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