Full reviews of the film were published by Variety, The Wrap, and The Guardian, while many other reactions were posted to social media. Buzzfeed‘s Alison Willmore called it “a transcendently bad movie, while Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn tweeted Jean Reno had “the worst of the godawful dialogue.”
“The Last Face is Sean Penn’s version of an Angelina Jolie movie,” Variety‘s Owen Glieberman writes, “It keeps advertising its compassion, yet it’s really a drama about two beautiful movie stars trying to save the world. Who, after all, can’t identify with that?” The Wrap‘s Ben Croll notes Penn intended the film to be “a call to action” regarding, in a broad sense, “the plight of refugees worldwide,” but explains the film “misfires on every front.”
Many critics from Cannes, including The Guardian‘s Benjamin Lee, compared The Last Face to Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, a film about a similar subject that let minority characters tell their own story. “[The Last Face is] 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,” Lee writes.
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Read more reactions to the film below.
Penn responded to the reviews at a press conference following the screening. “I stand by the film as it is, and everyone is going to be entitled to their response,” he said (via Variety). “I’ve finished the film so it’s not a discussion I’d be of value to.” He later added, “I am surrounded at this table by performances that I’d pay to see 100 times.”
This article has been updated with Sean Penn’s statement.