The Last Face - a love story in war-torn Liberia

The Last Face directed by Sean Penn, with Javier Bardem and Charlize Theron
The Last Face directed by Sean Penn, with Javier Bardem and Charlize Theron Festival de Cannes 2016

The Last Face starring Spanish actor Javier Bardem and South African actress Charlize Theron was greeted with boos at the end of its press screening in Cannes where it was competing for the Golden Palm award.


The very slushy love story between a humanitarian aid doctor (Bardem) and an NGO boss (Theron) is the main focus of the film.

Cute casts a shadow on the scenes which show urgent surgery in makeshift operating theatres, loss of life in attacks on the displaced, orphans, and the NGO team itself.

Groans echoed around the hall in the morning-screening as some top-notch actors like Reno and Bardem trotted out the corniest of dialogues from a scenario initially written by Erin Dignam more than ten years ago.

Penn is known as a champion of humanitarian aid, especially in the case of the Sudanese civil war. Here, however, unlike the marauding rebels in the film, he misses his target. The Liberian war setting and the local people appear to serve as mere background.

Penn tried to turn around the damning criticism by saying that thanks to the two main actors, Theron and Bardem, he found joy and resilience in this sombre story.

It’s not clear if he were talking about the love story, the tragedy of physical suffering and trauma of war, or the attitude of well-off communities and powerful countries elsewhere.

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