Looking like a bad photocopy of The Cure's singer Robert Smith in the film, Penn plays a semi-innocent man-child hunting down his father's tormentor in a quirky road picture by Il Divo director Paolo Sorrentino.
So what did Penn have to say at today's press conference, and which rock star has an extended cameo in This Must Be the Place?
The Cannes throngs at the press conference seemed palpably relieved to talk about a movie featuring a hunted Nazi bad guy (rather than a beloved-director-turned-villain). Whew!
But it's music that takes center stage for Penn's character, a retired rocker facing up to his father's harsh realities—and taking action.
"I think that rock 'n' roll has a place that is very important," said Penn at the press conference, "It counters what I think has kind of become the disease of polite society. To [help] break through depression. That's what rock 'n' roll has always been."
And speaking of rock 'n' roll, the film takes its title This Must Be the Place from the song of the same name by Talking Heads. In fact, it's Heads frontman David Byrne who has an extended cameo in the film, and also did the soundtrack along with singer-songwriter Will Oldham.
Oh! And in more festival good news for Penn, the do-gooder actor was given a humanitarian award for his Haiti charity work this week, and feted by Cannes Jury members Robert DeNiro and Uma Thurman along other stars gathered at a special dinner.
Working on interesting films and giving back to the world...Sean Penn is doing Cannes proud. Thanks Sean, we needed that.