It’s almost the end of the Cannes Film Festival, and the best has been saved for last. Sean Penn opens first tonight in “This Must Be The Place,” directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Then Ryan Gosling comes with “Drive,” from Nicholas Winding Refn. I saw them both this morning, they’re excellent. “This Must Be the Place” may even wind up with The Weinstein Company from what I’m hearing, which would be a great reunion of Penn and Harvey Weinstein. They made a movie years ago which Sean directed called “She’s So Lovely.”
In “This Must Be the Place,” Sean plays a an aging punk rocker from the early 80s who resembles Robert Smith of The Cure. Cheyenee, his character, has been cut off emotionally from his Orthodox Jewish family in New York, but returns when his father dies. It’s an odd story, but Sorrentino has a great visual sense. Also, David Byrne performs his song, “This Must Be the Place” live, and it’s even better than it was a hundred years ago in Jonathan Demme’s “Stop Making Sense.” Frances McDormand plays Sean’s wife with her usual fun crankiness. But the movie is all about Penn, who is unforgettable.
Meantime, Ryan Gosling takes a giant leap forward with “Drive,” a dreamily paced noir action film. This movie has cult classic written all over it. Gosling, now buffed up, emerges as a kind of new Steve McQueen. He’s had plenty of kudos, awards and nominations, but “Drive” will launch him into the leading man, action hero department. He also has a strong supporting cast with Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Carey Mulligan, and an outstanding Albert Brooks.
“Drive” is a violent film about lunatics who kill for money without thinking twice. Gosling plays a professional driver who can out pace anyone as he assists with robberies, etc. He’s also a survivor. “Drive” is incredibly stylish, although I wish someone would lose the cheesy ABBA soundtrack and put in some decent music that fits the film. (Hello, producers: call Randall Poster.)