Director: Paolo Sorrentino
I found it best, 10 minutes in, to think of Sean Penn’s character Cheyenne as not just Robert Smith of The Cure, but Robert Smith of The Cure post-stroke. And maybe that’s why they couldn’t go there completely with this as any sort of official fictitious Smith bio. The insinuation that he’d had a stroke was going to get them in trouble – and the insinuation that he’d had a stroke was all over Sean Penn’s acting.
I’m a Sean Penn fan. He does correct over-acting well. That nut-out scream in Mystic River where he knots himself into a ball of pain and fury. That’s scenery-chewing at its finest. He’s had a good run hamming it up and being understated all at once too – think 21 Grams, Milk, I Am Sam, Mystic River, my chronology is out, but think of them in whatever order and those are some impressive roles. And he’ll go for it and hold back, sometimes, somehow, he does it all at once.
But Mr Method must have double-dosed on the lithium in the warming up – or thawing – for this film.
It goes nowhere and Penn goes nowhere with it, for it and in it.
Take a look at that pic above – that’s Sean Penn as Olympia Dukakis channelling Cher auditioning to be the fifth Golden Girl.
That does not mean that this film is amazing by the way. It means quite the opposite.
Just because Penn got in near drag and went mid-life-crisis goth, just because you never in your wildest dreams imagined that does not mean it was good.
I tried to give it all sorts of chances and then David Byrne appeared as himself – how cringingly meta – while half a dozen luke warm treatments of the titular song did nothing to capture the original’s spark.
Watching this film was like some strange detention. I inflicted it on myself because I’d heard about film critics gushing, caking themselves with – well – parts of themselves; no one ever seemed to be able to say quite why this film was good either, just that it – very much so – was good.
I couldn’t get on board with it in any way. And I wanted to. I wanted this film to be great. But it was like when Todd Solondz gets it wrong (and for those keeping score at home that’s as often for him as for when he gets it right). It was a sub-Jarmusch monstrosity of sub-par sub-text. And so some critics got all fluvial. Well what the fuck would they know, right?
Not only the worst film I’ve seen in some time but easily the worst film-I-was-sure-might-be-good/wanted-to-like ever.