Retired rock star Chayenne (Sean Penn) swaggers around his Irish mansion like a soulful red-lipped raven in doc martens. Bored since retirement from the music world he plays the stock market and pilote in an empty swimming pool and loves his wife Jane.(Frances McDormand). But something’s not right. And then his father dies.
Paolo Sorrentino’s latest feature starts in seaside Dublin then relocates to rural New York where a weird and wacky road movie begins. His mission to revenge his father’s humiliation by a Nazi war commander ends up as a fascinating journey into himself.
Sorrentino’s style is playful and visually exciting as he whips through middle America with an energetic slide show of holiday-style snap shots punctuated by the music of David Byrne who performs the title song live. Chayenne is a gentle and intuitive soul refusing to be phased by the intense characters he meets along the way on his quest to find clues: relative Mordechai Midler (Judd Hirsch); Harry Dean Stanton as Utah Business man Robert Plath and his childhood history mistress (Joyce Van Patten). He offers up inconsequential aphorisms to an imaginary audience: “Have you noticed how nobody works anymore but everyone does something artistic?”
But the holocaust and retribution are just red herrings; what’s really going on here is an eccentric insight into the value of family and the price of success. With subtly-nuanced performances from Sean Penn and Frances McDormand and delicious turns from Harry Dean Stanton and Judd Hirsch, this thought-provoking muse on midlife will amuse and entertain. “We go from an age when we say “that will be my life” to an age when we say “that’s life.” Paolo Sorrentino keeps on getting better. Meredith Taylor©