On the sixth day of the Cannes Film Festival, Flag Day premiered and divisive director Sean Penn had a lot to say about it and former President Donald Trump.
Based on the true story by Jennifer Vogel, Penn directs and stars in a powerful family drama that may be a star-making showcase for daughter Dylan.
Flag Day marks third time Penn’s been in the Cannes Main Competition section as a director — the other times for The Pledge in 2001 and The Last Face in 2016.
Reactions at Cannes were mixed. TheWrap’s Steve Pond wrote, “While the film sometimes struggles with disparate tones, it’s a solid, subtle drama that opts in most cases for restraint over excess. It’s far closer to Penn’s more assured earlier works as a director — The Indian Runner in 1991, The Crossing Guard in 1995, Into the Wild in 2007 — than to the missteps of The Last Face.”
Others weren’t quite as understanding. World of Reel’s Jordan Ruimy tweeted, “Flag Day met with jeers & cackles at press screening. What did I just witness? The editing is horrendous. The photographer is ugly. The dialogue is third-grade level. Penn used to be a decent filmmaker. What happened? If I get COVID because I attended this screening.” Alex Billington of First Showing called it “as forgettable as they come.”
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Penn then decided to trash Donald Trump at the Cannes press conference for Flag Day on Sunday. Penn criticized the former president for his response to the coronavirus pandemic. Penn and his nonprofit CORE has helped test and vaccinate underserved communities, and said the Trump administration “let down” the country with “half-truths.” Penn said it was in “all terms an obscene administration humanly and politically.”
“When my team and I would come home from test and vaccination sites at night, particularly during testing under Trump, to maddening news — it felt like someone with a machine gun gunning down communities that were most vulnerable from a turret at the White House,” he continued.
Just another controversial day at Cannes.