After a sequence of elegant and sinister oddities – The Consequences of Love, Il Divo – Paolo Sorrentino has come a horrible cropper with this sort-of-road-movie.
Sean Penn plays Cheyenne, a 1980s Goth rock star (think Robert Smith's mournful trans-sexual cousin, if you can) who has retired to tax exile in Dublin with his wife (Frances McDormand). Summoned to his estranged father's deathbed in New York, he conceives a plan to hunt down the Nazi persecutor his father had been pursuing for decades. You have to buy Penn's man-child character if this is going to work – the quavery, depressive drone of his voice, the affectless stare, the fearful neuroses, the mad get-up – and sadly I didn't. To say the plot is overcrowded is putting it mildly, and it's hard to feel any sincere connection with Cheyenne's encounters when all of them seem to have been hatched within the same factory of oddball movie characters.