A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Though the movie is about humanitarians, they aren't painted in the most flattering light. Service is seen as more self-serving and patronizing than helpful. And the decision to tell a story of an African culture's struggles through the eyes of privileged white/western characters is outdated at best and insulting at worst. But the movie could raise viewers' interest in learning about real-life conflicts in Liberia and Cape Town.
Positive Role Models
Though the characters are trying to help by providing medical services to war victims in Liberia, they come across as self-centered and shallow. Their reasons for helping are obscured.
Violence & Scariness
Brief but extremely disturbing images of people being operated upon, with blood spurts. Gruesome pile of dead bodies covered with flies. Bloody intestines. A young boy shoots himself in the head, with a large blood spray and gurgling blood. Military attacks, with guns, shooting, and deaths, including women and children. Verbal description of brutal rape. Slapping.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple has sex; the scene includes brief nudity (glimpse of a naked bottom and a woman's nipple). Mentions of affairs/multiple lovers.
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Uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "anus," "vagina."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Brief reference to smoking pot. Wine with dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Last Face is a mature romantic drama about humanitarian doctors set in wartime Africa. Expect brief but disturbing scenes of operating room gore, bloody body parts, and dead bodies. There are also scenes of guns and shooting, with many people killed, including women and children. In one scene, a boy shoots himself in the head -- complete with a gruesome blood spray -- to save his father. Brutal rape is described, and language is strong, with several uses of "f--k" and "s--t." The main characters have sex, with a little nudity (bottom, nipple). There's a a brief reference to smoking pot, and characters have wine with dinner. Though the filmmakers seem to have had good intentions, the movie is difficult to watch and frustratingly misguided; it tells the story of an African culture's struggles through the eyes of privileged white/western characters, which is outdated at best and insulting at worst. Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem star; Sean Penn directs. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
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