This Must Be the Place

April 28, 2013

There seems to be a recurrent theme of boredom attached to prosperity in cinema. One might even suggest that it is a form of contempt for the nature in which such individuals fall into such “wretched” situations. It does, after all, put in place the absurdity of the efforts to acquire material wealth, which is what seems to drive the aims of most people. In this example, we have the interpretation of the meaninglessness of such an immersive life seen through the lens of Europeanism. This is of course the style of European that is post-modern, living in an age where there are no values that are sacred beyond “tolerance” and “diversity”. Boredom and nihilism are to be expected.


And here we have a panorama of such depictions, seen in the ordinary lives of those in Ireland as well as America. People who live life but do not live it for anything beyond itself. Cheyenne , the protagonist, it seems begins to recognize this. And, coupled with the fact that his life’s work was self-admittedly fraudulent, jumps at any chance to provide himself with exhilaration.


This is not a spiritual exercise. The “character study” that this film would be categorized under does not portend to any metaphysical significance. He is still a trapped soul merely preoccupying his time until death. He changes, apparently, upon his voyage of self-discovery. And this change is visually accomplished in a cartoonish manner; of course he abandons his adolescent routine of donning makeup. But was it really necessary for him to travel across America to achieve this?


Was it necessary for him to escape his existence, is another way of putting it. And yet was his existence anything to value to begin with? He clearly thought not, which is why he lived in banality and existential crisis. And miraculously, through one vain attempt at stepping outside of his ego-centrism, he changes his decades old paradigm of thinking. It really was as childish as it was suggested in the film.


This reminds of Away We Go in rhythm. European filmmakers are enamored with glorifying the mediocre, asserting that distilling the ordinary can act as significant in the traversal of character development, more than the attempts of traditional and classical drama. It is not simple-minded to lack its appreciation; on the contrary, the anemia that is presented with such filmmaking only exemplifies the lack of cultural prowess promoted. There is no impulse toward the grandiose with such works. And in the absence of a clear and present aim toward achievement, the disorder of emotional content presented in such works comes across as painfully awkward.


Take for instance, the sing along with Cheyenne and a little boy and his mother. The mother is emotionally overwhelmed because of what? Her boy can sing and she was unaware of this fact? Are we supposed to observe her difficulties of being a single mother makes her oblivious to her own son’s gifts or interests? Why is this mundane moment held extraordinary by the film? The sequence adds no content. Such attempts at profundity are littered throughout the film. They are more akin to an octogenarian jab than a virile man’s joust.


Grade: C



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