Blu-ray Review: ‘This Must Be the Place’

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The 2011 road movie "This Must Be the Place" releases on a single-disc Blu-ray package featuring a tale of self-discovery helmed by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino. This motion picture stars Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, Kerry Condon, Harry Dean Stanton, and Joyce Van Patten. It won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and it also bagged six David di Donatello Awards, which is often described as the Italian Oscars.

This critically acclaimed cinematic piece features the quirky but heartfelt story of a bored and jaded former rock star as he simply lives off his royalties in his grand Dublin mansion. But soon, he finds himself searching through America's Midwest for a series of surreal encounters. Shot in Ireland, Italy, and the United States, the film takes off when this reclusive and aging Goth rocker decides to avenge his father whom he meets right after he passes away in New York -- after 30 years of estrangement. His quest to find his Holocaust survivor father's nemesis and lifelong obsession, an ex-Nazi war criminal now hiding in the United States, begins a life-changing journey for him.

Visuals

This bright, colorful, and well-balanced HD transfer comes with plenty of visual delights. It showcases a richly detailed palette that favors a good number of long, continuous and highly stylized shots. A number of sequences primarily boast dazzling clarity and a healthy amount of film grain.

Brightness could be better balanced in some areas and shadows can seem a bit lacking and murky at times. But overall, images are pretty good for their admirable detailing. Facial complexions always appear natural with excellent lifelike textures. From the layers of make-up on Penn's face to the various levels of greens in the gardens and landscapes to the well-defined structures and road scenes, no traces of detrimental digital manipulation and other visual anomalies can be seen.

Audio

The five-channel master audio track for this dialogue-driven dramedy promotes a front-heavy presentation with a fine variety of atmospherics and musical cues. It uses lots of diegetic music in its subtle but quite impressive mix. There are no problematic pops, cracks, audio dropouts, or distortions to report anywhere in the track.

Full of memorable lines and featuring a great mixture of songs, this lossless offering always brings the goods with enough richness and clarity. The vocals are consistently crisp and easy to understand. The bass is often deep and accurate.

Supplements

Unfortunately, this is a barebones release. At the very least, the package provides options for English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

Final Thoughts

"This Must Be the Place" is a character-driven piece that can manage to hold a willing viewer's attention for its aptly slow and moody pace. With enough powerful moments, this film impresses by effectively blending plenty of black humor with dramatic moments. Full of character and depth in both its absurdity and stylish pursuits, it best suits those who are in for an adventurously challenging material aimed at revealing a deeper understanding of the world.

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