Parents' Guide to

The Last Face

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Violent wartime drama is inept, pretentious, and brutal.

Movie R 2017 131 minutes
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This romantic war drama -- Sean Penn's fifth feature film as director -- is an all-around dud. It's poorly shot and edited, crushingly heavy-handed, woefully misguided, and, to top it off, miserably long. Penn is talented, but with The Last Face he seems to have let his humanitarian beliefs get in the way of his artistic instincts. He sheds light on terrible atrocities but does so in a melodramatic, hysterical way that undermines them. He also bafflingly uses the old "white savior" technique -- that is, telling the story of a culture's struggles through the eyes of privileged white/western characters, which is outdated at best and insulting at worst.

And as if all that weren't enough, Penn aggravatingly favors wobbly, shaky camera work, restlessly roaming and wandering as if terribly bored. He also frequently uses a "rolling focus" technique, which leaves important bits of the frame out of focus. Not even Oscar winners Theron and Bardem can save the day; their shallow characters are little more than placeholders. And talented supporting cast members Exarchopoulos, Jean Reno, and Jared Harris barely register at all. Avoid this and seek enlightenment elsewhere.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: July 28, 2017
  • On DVD or streaming: September 5, 2017
  • Cast: Charlize Theron , Javier Bardem , Adele Exarchopoulos
  • Director: Sean Penn
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: Saban Films
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 131 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence including disturbing images of war atrocities, language, and brief sexuality
  • Last updated: December 23, 2022

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