Well known ctor and filmmaker Sean Penn directed romance The Last Face has been ripped apart by almost everyone who saw it at Cannes this year! The movie about the head of an international aid organization (Charlize Theron) and a relief aid doctor (Javier Bardem) falling in love as they work to bring peace to the African continent and highlight the plight of refugees.
Early reviews out of Cannes are savaging the film, even going so far as to criticize the opening title card, which compares the conflict in South Sudan to the love “between a man … and a woman.”
TheWrap wrote “Nothing sticks, and perhaps he realizes that. It would certainly explain the outrageous ending, which blows past earnest and into the realm of camp.”
The Guardian wrote – “Penn’s first film as director since 2007’s ‘Into the Wild’ confirms all of our worst suspicions of his preachy, ham-fisted politics. It’s an extended Band Aid video, shoddily assembled to be screened at galas filled with the guilty elite sipping champagne while frowning at close-ups of tearful orphans.”
The Evening Standard stated, “Although often ably filmed, it’s poorly edited, structured and acted. The cast make cod-profound statements about the conflict (‘Save them for what? What kind of world?’) and men and women (‘It’s not grabbing!’ ‘It’s loving!’), prompting derisive laughter at this morning’s press screening in Cannes, followed by booing. ‘The Last Face’ employs African suffering as a backdrop for romance, a white love story in a black war zone. Not all right.”
The Telegraph wrote, “Penn seems to be begging for credit, for being the type of caring-and-sharing guy to alert our attention to a continent’s woes, but then he consigns those very woes to thoughtless, backdroppy, vacuous oblivion. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if his old pal Bono showed up to lend a hand, flying over by private jet to drop some personalised aid packages. But then the hopeful orphans would open these, and they’d only contain CDs of The Joshua Tree.”
The Variety in their review state, “Penn would do well not to mistake his own global caring for an artistic impulse. ‘The Last Face’ was greeted with jeers at its premiere Cannes showing, and that’s because no matter how “well-meaning” a director may be, there’s something inherently eye-rolling about being asked to care about the tragedy of African children through the POV of two lovelorn glamourpusses. If you really take the message of the movie to heart, it just forces you to acknowledge that the story — to quote Humphrey Bogart — doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.”
In the end, Hollywood Reporter panned the film saying, “[Penn’s] fifth feature, from a script by Erin Dignam loaded with platitudinous dialogue and shallow psychology, is arguably Penn’s first directorial outing that has pretty much nothing going for it. Even the handsome widescreen visuals of the wounded African landscapes — relentlessly accompanied by composer Hans Zimmer’s extended lecture in musical solemnity, or by on-the-nose vocals — are rendered uninteresting by Penn’s insistence on stretching every exchanged word or gesture to dreamy extremes of the most studious lyricism.”
This is surprising considering Penn has directed some good movies, most notably the masterpiece Into The Wild. Hope he bounces back!