CANNES, France: Sean Penn defended his new movie about aid workers in Africa starring his ex-girlfriend Charlize Theron against howling critics at Cannes, saying it offered a rare slice of “entertainment” tackling big issues.
The Last Face is Penn’s fifth directing effort and features the South African-born Theron and Spaniard Javier Bardem—both past Oscar-winners—as a pair of doctors struggling to keep their love affair going as their humanitarian work in war zones drives them apart.
The movie features brutal scenes of marauding rebels laying waste to villages and wailing orphans begging for medical assistance, but the film’s focus remains firmly on the two white lead characters.
The audience at a preview screening guffawed at wooden dialogue and improbable plot lines just minutes into the movie.
As the curtain fell, the crowd let out the biggest boos of the 12-day festival.
A visibly shaken Penn and a stony-faced Theron later faced questions at an awkward press conference about the vicious reception and the experience of working together before their high-profile breakup last year.
“I stand behind the film as it is, and certainly everyone is entitled to their response,” Penn said, praising his cast’s “great performances.”