The Movie: 7/10
The Last Face is a well made, if not slightly pretentious movie that did one thing very well, told me a story about something in this world I knew nothing about. I know movies are not for education or to be taken as the truth. The thing is, a story like this, about a war in a country that has all the brutality and horror we have all been told about in wars of the past, took place and is taking place in our modern world.
Africa is the setting. A rich white woman is the leading lady, and her cocky but brilliant doctor friend as the leading man. The characters are somewhat 2 dimensional, even though we get a lot of time and lots of conversations to get to know them. I felt like once I met them, in about 2 minutes I knew all I was going to know about them, and I do think that’s accurate. She’s rich and troubled and feeling torn about taking over her father’s charity work in Africa. She’s got the guilt complex of knowing she can walk away from the terrible conflict and be comfortable far far away, and she torments herself about it through the whole story. I don’t have much sympathy for her, for some reason, but I was interested in what choices she would make along the way. I was never surprised, like when she falls apart in the middle of a terrible scene when people are dying, (oh she’s a doctor too) and she wallows in her own moment of self-pity and confusion about why she’s there. Her main man is not a good guy, except that he seems to have sacrificed his own comfy life for the cause of simply saving one person at a time in the war ravaged landscape. He’s not a likable guy, so don’t be charmed by his teeth brushing techniques…must see the movie to know what I’m talking about.
Overall I was not necessarily entertained by the movie, it’s not that kind of story, but I was captivated by it all, and the reality that these horror happen all the time in our world, right this minute even. Sean Penn is one of those deep kind of guys who feels the world’s pains, and in this instance I think he is transferring some of his own “rich Hollywood star trying to save the world because he hasn’t suffered enough” syndrome to our leading lady. I don’t mind that. I did cry and then realized that I have nothing in my life that even resembles the pains and suffering so many humans do in this world and here I was comfy in my movie chair, eating popcorn, and letting rich movie stars tell me about the state of humanity in a way that made me cry, but would insure I don’t have to really go there and be in the middle of it. All I have to do is feel bad and then eat some more popcorn…well, that’s an unfair thing to say, but it’s mostly true when it comes to this kind of social commentary mixed with high dollar movie making for the masses. It might stir some action in a few people, but mostly it just makes us say to ourselves “OH MY GOD HUMANS ARE TERRIBLE” and then get on with our lives.
I might be over thinking it and my cynical brain does have a way of distilling things to a very fine point, about which I might be mistaken. All I can say is that once you see it, you’ll know what I mean. Don’t let the overt message of the movie, as brought to you by performers in the entertainment industry, detract from the human reality it’s trying to pass along to us all.
- Picturing The Last Face (10 minutes) – Short documentary with shots of Sean Penn at work but no actual dialog from him. It’s as if he’s channeling his friend Terrence Malick who also does the same thing.
- UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
I’m not a fan of this type of movie poster/cover artwork. It’s boring and looks more like a romance novel than a dramatic movie. I would not have it as a poster.
Audio & Video: 6/10
Filmed digitally and using a very distinctive style The Last Face looks uneven on Blu-ray. Lionsgates 1080P transfer is not to blame though it’s more the difficult cinematography that sometimes looks like it is shot through a pane of glass. Penn does manage to capture the glorious look of Africa with sweeping vistas and lots of wide shots. Flesh Tones are good and shadow detail is also on point.
Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 this movie has several issues with audio. First the difference between quiet and loud is much to wide and you will be playing the remote control game throughout the film. Dialog is often lost in the explosions and gunfire so subtitles might be your best bet for fully enjoying the film. The movies excellent score by Hans Zimmer does come across loud and clear though and is easily the highlight of the whole production.
Overall Score 7/10