THIS MUST BE THE PLACE
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by L.
We open on a beautiful manor in Dublin, Ireland. A dog wearing a cone pants as it walks the ground. Cheyenne (Sean Penn) paints his toenails black, puts on earrings, make-up, and hair spray. He dresses in the mirror as he listens to himself on the radio. He walks around the place slowly and turns off the television.
Mary (Eve Hewson), a young girl of the punk persuasion, rides her skateboard around town until she arrives at a local mall. She joins a crowd that is listening to a live band perform a set. Cheyenne arrives at the mall and is pestered by fans but shows no visible reaction. His face is a mask. Mary sees Cheyenne arrive and pecks him on the cheek before turning her attention back to the band. Everything goes well until the lead guitarist goes off script to do a guitar solo in an attempt to impress Cheyenne only serving to drive him away.
In a nearby restaurant, Cheyenne and Mary get coffee. She asks if he should be investing in the stock market but Cheyenne simply asks if they should be getting coffee in a place that serves shit for coffee. A waiter, Desmond (Sam Keeley), approaches Mary and asks her if she would like to go out. She asks him what sort of music he listens to but Desmond butchers it. Embarrassed, he walks away.
Cheyenne walks away and goes to the supermarket where his appearance startles two girls. Discontent, he leaves his shopping and a mess behind to go back home. He cooks a frozen pizza when Jane (Frances McDormand) arrives. He tells her that if he sells his stocks now he’ll make 30 million euros. She simply states that the stock market isn’t doing him any good. The two eat and then play a vicious game of squash against one another in an empty pool. She beats him thoroughly and tells him that sometimes she lets him win so that he’ll feel like a stud.
That evening, Jane tells him that a letter came from MTV requesting that after 20 years out of the spotlight Cheyenne and the Fellas, his old band, perform live on a world-wide broadcast. She asks if he wants to think about it but he tells her that he already did think about it twenty years ago. He’s still busy.
In the morning, the singer from the local band that performed in the mall approaches Jane as she fixes her car. He introduces himself as “the Future” and asks to see Cheyenne. Jane directs him to the house where he approaches Cheyenne and introduces himself as Steven (Johnny Ward). He asks Cheyenne to produce his album but Cheyenne says that he isn’t a producer. He introduces his band as “The Pieces of Shit” which he describes as perfect for this moment in history.
Cheyenne and Mary meet for coffee again. This time Desmond presents Mary with a gift a rare CD she doesn’t have from a band she loves. Cheyenne grins and asks Desmond where he found it but Desmond stutters which makes Mary realize that Cheyenne was the one who gave it to him. He apologizes and walks away. Cheyenne invited the two of them to dinner on Friday and they must both attend.
He and Mary visit a grave site. An elderly couple arrives and tells them that the pair is not welcome at their son’s grave. The grave stone reads ‘Cheyenne.' Afterward, as the pair walks away, Mary tells him that she will be in attendance. Mary’s mother has been having problems so Cheyenne swings by her house. Mary’s mother asks where her son has gone. Cheyenne doesn’t have an answer. She can’t rationalize why she hasn’t heard from her son in 6 months. She points out that Cheyenne doesn’t smoke because he’s still a child only children don’t have the urge to smoke. He’s never grown up.
As Cheyenne walks around town he is followed by Jeffery (Simon Delaney) a heavyset man who likes to talk about sex. He regales Cheyenne with his tales of how he’s had sex with a woman with one leg in a cast when Cheyenne asks where Jeffery meets all these women, pointing out that he’s not smart, not handsome, sweats like a pig, and has an ego. Jeffery says that he has a lot of time and curiosity. He puts so much time into women that they eventually cave not out of exhaustion but because they didn’t believe they were worth all that time. Cheyenne pauses to watch Jane on a fireman’s crane outside a window.
We transition to a rolling golf course. Cheyenne is being driven around. It’s Friday and Cheyenne is hosting dinner for Desmond, Mary, Jane, Jeffery, and Jeffery's girlfriend. Cheyenne tells a story about how he once walked in on Jane asleep on the couch…having set a pillow on fire with a cigarette. Desmond doesn’t laugh because he doesn’t know that Jane is a firefighter by profession. Desmond mentions that he has six brothers and sometimes wishes that he could disappear. Mary leaves the table upset. Desmond is confused and follows, as does Jane. Jeffery's girlfriend tells him that the roast looks lovely but that she and her dog don’t eat meat. “FUCK,” he moans.
Desmond and Cheyenne sit above the empty pool while Desmond smokes. He asks what’s wrong with Cheyenne’s dog but Cheyenne simply states that he doesn’t know. The same answer is given as to why the pool was never filled with water. After he asks too many questions, Cheyenne yells that he didn’t invite Desmond over to interview him. He’s frustrated because he fancies Mary but keeps blowing it. Cheyenne tells him that all it takes is time, since that's what brings women over and makes them feel safe. He begs Desmond not to give up on her. In the house, Jane hugs Mary while she cries.
That evening, Cheyenne performs oral sex on Jane. When she orgasms, he comes up and confesses that he might be a tad depressed. She tells him that it’s not depression, it’s boredom.
In the morning, Mary’s mother gets a call. Cheyenne is handed the phone and is informed that his father is dying of old age. He hasn’t spoken to his father in 30 years. When he prepares to fly out, Jane tells him that she can’t live without him and Cheyenne sighs that it’s not true but nice of her to say.
On a cruise ship, Cheyenne is trapped on an elevator with babbling women discussing how to get the longest lasting lipstick. He interrupts out of annoyance to tell them that the brand doesn’t matter. They need to apply face paint first for it to last all day. He gets on the deck of the ship where he sees a woman sitting on the deck.
New York. Cheyenne rolls his luggage down the street, getting odd looks from a family of Hasidic Jews walking down the street. He is greeted by his cousin, Richard (Liron Levo), who asks what took Cheyenne so long. Cheyenne goes upstairs where his father’s body is covered with a blanket. He notices a series of numbers tattooed to his father’s wrist indicating that he was in a concentration camp at some point in his life.
Cheyenne goes to a live David Byrne performance in the city. He listens but doesn’t really seem to enjoy himself. After the show, he and David talk and Cheyenne confesses that he doesn’t have any idea as to why they are friends since they haven’t the slightest thing in common. David has such precise thoughts and ideas which amaze people but David responds that Cheyenne that was the same when he performed, but Cheyenne rejects that notion. He wrote depressing songs that were all the rage to make a ton of money and feels the guilt of the two kids who ended up killing themselves because of it. He goes to a cemetery once a week to try and appease his conscience but it only gets worse which builds into his fear that his wife is an idiot because she doesn’t realize why he stopped playing.
That evening, Cheyenne pores over several notebooks his father left behind. During the funeral a black car pulls up, its occupant watching the funeral. Cheyenne asks Richard who is in the car and Richard insists that it’s a legend: Mordecai Midler (Judd Hirsch). Richard and Cheyenne discuss Cheyenne’s father’s diaries which were devoid of any mention of Cheyenne. Richard insists that Cheyenne’s father removed any mention of anything that would lead back to a man named Aloise Lange. A former SS Officer, Lange, was Cheyenne’s father’s persecutor in Auschwitz. Richard insists that Cheyenne’s father got close even getting close enough to find Lange’s wife. Midler, a former Nazi hunter, could help find Lange. Richard asks why he didn’t speak to his father and Cheyenne simply states “he didn’t love me.”
Mordecai tells Cheyenne that he wants to know what happened to the teeth of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Cheyenne asks if he can help finding Lange. Mordecai tells Cheyenne that Lange is a 96 year old nobody a small fish for a shark hunter. Mordecai asks if Cheyenne knows much about the Holocaust or his father but Cheyenne states he knows of it only in a general sort of way. Mordecai brings him to a class on the Holocaust and shows Cheyenne the horrors that were inflicted on people. Cheyenne gets uncomfortable and leaves.
He goes out and buys a truck and reads his father’s journal. He pops in the Pieces of Shit album and listens to it as he drives across America. In Michigan, he stops at a motel. He calls Jane to check in on her and asks if there’s been any news. He lies and tells her that he will be boarding a boat in thirty minutes and tells her that a week from now he’ll be home. He continuously drinks soda and a bar patron asks him if he drinks. Cheyenne insists he drank enough to quit. He tells the patron that he’s going on a mission to find a Nazi war criminal but that he doesn’t know what he’ll do when he finds him.
Cheyenne arrives and knocks on a door. He claims to be a former student named John Smith, but she claims to not remember who he is. He claims to remember classes about the Holocaust. He tells her that it was a touching class naturally. The woman is Lange’s wife. He asks about her husband and claims that he’s been dead for ten years. Later that evening, Cheyenne sneaks into her house at night and finds a report card for her grandson.
Cheyenne hits the road again and ends up at a diner, where he meets Lange’s daughter, Rachel (Kerry Condon), a single mother working as a waitress. She brings Cheyenne home and her son pushes her to play “This Must Be The Place” by the Talking Heads. Cheyenne plays while the boy sings along. After the boy goes to bed, Rachel tries to take Cheyenne to bed but he tells her that he’s married. He leaves the next morning for his next destination: Huntsville.
Stopping at a gun shop, Cheyenne purchases a pistol. The owner tells him that the people who carry guns like that hunt monsters and end up becoming just like them. At a stop over to change his oil, the truck catches fire forcing him to get a new one. When he arrives in Huntsville, he goes to a diner where he ends up meeting the inventor of the rolling suitcase, Robert Plath (Harry Dean Stanton). Plath knows where to find Lange and tells Cheyenne.
When Cheyenne returns to his motel he finds Mordecai waiting for him. Cheyenne doesn’t know how Mordecai found him but Mordecai shrugs it off since he hunted Nazis for a living. He accompanies Cheyenne to Lange’s residence.
Lange tells Cheyenne about how his father had tracked him down years prior. As a guard in the camp, Lange had a first seat for what he referred to as “the inferno.” The reason Cheyenne’s father remembered Lange the most was because when he was in the camps, Lange had threatened to feed Cheyenne’s father to his German shepherd. It was simply the role to which he was assigned. Cheyenne’s father pissed himself when the dog drew near. Over the years they kept in contact, sending letters full of hurtful and kind words.
Cheyenne listens to the story and takes a photo of Lange, whispering that Cheyenne’s father dying before Lange was a grave injustice. Before Cheyenne can leave with Mordecai, Lange blind and naked walks out of his cabin into the freezing cold. His penance for his sins is to publicly embarrass himself before these two Jewish men and catch a cold so that he might quicken his death.
Cheyenne buys a plane ticket home and while he waits on the tarmac for his private jet he is offered a cigarette, which he takes. He sheers off his long hair and removes the make-up. He visits his mother, Mary’s mother, with his new look and smiles having accepted his father as a more complicated figure than he could have imagined. Mary is pleased to have her brother back and Cheyenne is ready to move ahead with his life.