Oh, boy. It's been a tough year for tough guy Sean Penn. First there was the controversy over what some called his self-serving interview with drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. Now comes the actor's latest directorial effort, which many critics have described as the bomb of the Cannes Film Festival.
On Friday, Penn was in Cannes to debut his new film, a romantic drama called The Last Face. According to an Australian news outlet, the screening audience reacted with unintended laughter during the movie, and with boos once the credits began to roll. Things were reportedly just as awkward between Penn and his ex-fiance Charlize Theron, who stars in the film, but who broke up with Penn last year. According to some accounts, Penn and Theron could barely look at each other while posing for red-carpet photos and answering questions during a festival press session.
Theron and Javier Bardem play aid international workers who fall in love in African war zones. Wow, did the critics hate it on Twitter.
From Dave Calhoun, global film editor at Time Out: "Sean Penn's The Last Face: awful. Pompous romance with human suffering as wallpaper. Pleads empathy with Africa. Zero real black characters."
And from critic Jason Gorber: "Sean Penn's The Last Face - A risible disaster, all the more tragic for butchering serious and vital tale. Amateur, appalling #cannes2016."
This scorcher came from Guy Lodge, Variety's UK reviewer, who facetiously speculated about whether the film had contributed to the break-up: "Is it possible Charlize Theron saw a rough cut of The Last Face and *then* ended things with Sean Penn? I would."
Ouch. There's plenty more, but you get the idea. The bad reviews, coupled with what the Daily Beast called Theron's "guarded stares" at her ex, may have accomplished the impossible: making us feel sorry for Penn.