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Pans and Praise at 2016 Cannes Film Festival


Actors Sasha Lane, Shia Labeouf, Riley Keough, and McCaul Lombardi leaving the screening of the film 'American Honey' at the 2016 international film festival in Cannes, France. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Actors Sasha Lane, Shia Labeouf, Riley Keough, and McCaul Lombardi leaving the screening of the film 'American Honey' at the 2016 international film festival in Cannes, France. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)


Several American movies are among the leading candidates for the biggest award at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d’Or. Others got booed.

The prize for worst reception so far goes to “The Last Face” directed by Sean Penn. The movie star-director-political activist attempts a story about the romantic and humanitarian struggles of two aid workers in Liberia. It stars Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem. Some critics wonder why the film centers on their relationship instead of the horrors faced by the local people they are supposed to help.

Benjamin Lee of the Guardian online writes, “This is not a film about Penn helping people, it’s a film to show how much he wants to be seen helping people.”

The movie was severely panned on Twitter after its Cannes debut. Tweets described “The Last Face” as racist, “transcendentally bad” and “a chore to sit through.”

Joachim Kurz tweeted “The Last Face feels like competition in suffering. Who suffers most: Theron? Bardem? The Refugees? Or maybe the viewers?”

Candidates for Palme d'Or

Two American movies are considered strong candidates for the Palme d’Or. “Loving” from director Jeff Nichols is based on true story of two Americans who were sentenced to prison for marrying each other in the 1950s. Mildred and Richard Loving fled Virginia to avoid jail after they were found guilty of violating state law barring interracial marriage.

Mildred Loving was black and Richard Loving was white. The two took legal action against the state of Virginia for its action. They won the case in 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled the law violated the United States Constitution.

A joint British-American movie is also on top of some Palme d’Or prediction lists. British filmmaker Andrea Arnold directed the film “American Honey.” It stars American actors Sasha Lane, Shia LeBoeuf and Riley Keough.

Lane stars as a poor Texas teenager with little support or supervision from adults in her life. She meets up with a group of similar teenagers and begins a cross-country trip with them.

“American Honey” is Arnold’s first film set in America. Reviews have been mostly positive. Critic Eric Kohn of Indiewire praised the film for capturing the “explosive sense of liberty that comes with living dangerously.” Reviewers also expressed excitement about the debut film performance of Sasha Lane. The Hollywood Reporter described the young actor as “luminous.”

The Palme d’Or jury this year includes Australian director George Miller, American actor Kirsten Dunst and Iranian producer Katayoon Shahabi. The winning film will receive the prize in a ceremony on the festival’s closing day, Sunday, May 22.

I’m Dorothy Gundy.

Caty Weaver wrote this story. Hai Do was the editor.

What movies have you liked this year so far? Let us know in the Comment Section or post a message on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

boo - v. to show dislike or disapproval of someone or something by shouting “boo” slowly​

romantic -​ adj. of, relating to, or involving love between two people​

pan -​ v. to criticize (a book, movie, play, etc.) severely​

transcendentally -​ adv. surpassing​ly

debut -​ n. the first time an actor, musician, athlete, etc., does something in public or for the public​

luminous -​ adj. producing or seeming to produce light​; shining

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