He was ace as the first US elected gay political figure in Milk (for which he won an Oscar), and is equally excellent here in Paolo Sorrentino’s indie-drama/revenge road movie (yes, all those genres in one).
Penn plays Cheyenne, an ageing rock star (think The Cure’s Robert Smith) holed up in his Dublin mansion, living off his royalties while drowning in self-pity and depression – for the father who didn’t love him and for the two teenagers who committed suicide to one of his songs.
When news comes of his father’s approaching passing, he sets off on a journey to New York and beyond, and finds himself reconnecting with his Jewish ancestry, and facing his impending emotional maturity, as he finishes off his father’s work to track down the Nazi who tormented him during the Second World War.
The Oscar-winner is top draw as the whimpering, man-child who’s never left the teenage dreams behind.
Frances McDormand, as his playful, supportive wife, is terrific, if terribly underused, and Judd Hirsch brings gravitas as one of Cheyenne’s father’s friends whose life is driven and shadowed by the Holocaust.
It’s full of indie quirks and moments of wonder – Cheyenne playing a couple of kids at ping pong in a roadside diner, for one – and a climactic revelation lingers provactively, but director Sorentino takes his time in reaching the Nazi-hunting set-up, a journey in itself that may be too long for some.
This Must Be The Place: 15, 118mins
The biggest film of all time, until its director came and knocked himself off the top spot with Avatar, Titanic was a sprawling, FX-laden, dire-alogue spouting behemoth. Given James Cameron’s fondness for 3D but dislike of post-production conversions, you can expect the job here to be top dollar. It might even make him king of the world all over again.
Titanic 3D: Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet. 12A. 194mins
Hot on the heels of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo comes this equally dark crime thriller – the first Jo Nesbo novel to be adapted for the big screen – about a corporate headhunter who masquerades as an art thief by night. Full of the sort of dark, repressed tensions, cover-ups and conspiracies synonymous with Scandinavian crime fiction in recent years.
Headhunters: 15. 100mins