When The Last Face premiered at Cannes this past May, things did not go according to plan. It’s hard to tell what director Sean Penn’s plan might have been for his first outing behind the camera in nine years (the last was 2007’s excellent Into the Wild), but the widespread critical drubbing the film took upon its debut couldn’t have been it. The film was torn apart, hecklers taking to it with the kind of zeal that only hecklers at Cannes could offer.

None of us at CoS have actually seen the film, so we’ll hold our judgments and hope against hope that perhaps it was the questionable decision to premiere the film in competition for the Palme D’or (the fest’s top prize) despite seeming in a few different ways like the kind of vanity project frequently made by well-meaning performers-turned-filmmakers. Perhaps away from the spotlight, Penn’s romance about an international aid doctor in West Africa (Charlize Theron) and the handsome surgeon (Javier Bardem) with whom she becomes involved will play more as the appeal for consideration of struggling nations it was intended to be.

Or, you know, maybe it won’t. But who’s to say. The film’s first trailer gives a pretty strong impression of what can be expected, from the sweeping romance to the on-the-nose narration. Again, open minds.


The Last Face will see theaters sometime in 2017, and of all the movies set to be released next year, it will certainly be a movie.