Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Last Face

To make things clear from the beginning, forget all the crap reviews that you could have read, The last face is an excellent movie. Tough, touching, almost captivating, and the performances of Bardem and Charlize Theron are impressive.

When I found that there was a film directed by Sean Penn and starred by Bardem and Charlize Theron I assumed that it had many chances to be a good film. The plot: 2 doctors working on humanitarian missions in war ravaged Africa end up falling in love, but the relation proves to be too difficoult given their circumstance. Well, the "love story" thing is not my cup of tea, but the attrocities in the different African conflicts are of quite more interest to me, so all in all it still could be a good watch. Then I read the critics and felt shocked. Seems like all the "educated and intelectual critics" (and the so cool attendants to its premier in Cannes) were treating it like shit, mocking it and calling it "the laughing stock of Cannes" and "refugees porno"... I felt quite puzzled, so I decided to see by myself.

The film is amazing. Its 3 components: brutality of senseless conflicts in Africa, the risks taken by Humanitarian workers in their uncompromising devotion to saving unknown lives, and the difficoult (to say the least) love story between two of them, play together masterfully. There are many gripping moments like for example when a kid is being forced to shoot his father (that will literaly blow your head away), or the amazing speech of Charlize Theron in a fund raising event. Also when Charlize advocates for focusing efforts on trying to stop the conflicts and allowing development, questioning what sense it makes to try to save these human beings now, just to keep them living in biggest misery, and Bardem tells her that even in all this misery, they manage to find dignity and joy, loving their children and living on. This film is emotional and inspiring, and I really can't understand the bad reviews. Well, maybe I can.

It seems like much criticism comes from relating this film to the White Savior complex. So it seems portraying whites trying to save black lives is a sort of "neocolonial product". It's as if all these humanitarian heros were just trying to purge the "evil white man" culpability, and furthermore they have no right to fall in love (precisely people that show so much love for others sacrificing their comfortable lives as doctors in wealthy western countries to go deep in hell... ) Fuck off, all this criticism denotes all the stupid colonial shame so predominant in western (sort of) leftists. This film is not about colonialism (the past), it's about people dying now and people that will continue to die tomorrow... And by the way, sure many bad things were done in the past, but thinking that all the current misery is just a consequence of "evil white colonial powers" is an oversimplification and for sure will not help at all.

Maybe some "critics" will also dislike the introduction of the AIDS drama in the film by means of a white woman and not an African. I don't think the intent is to denounce how devastating AIDS is Africa, but to remember us that it's even one more threat stalking these doctors that do not doubt in getting soaked in the blood of a stranger to try to save his life.

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