CANNES, France (AP) – Sean Penn has been to the Cannes Film Festival a dozen times – after chatting with Robert De Niro in 1984 to chair the jury.
But his last visit was difficult. Penn’s 2016 film “The Last Face” failed with critics in a way that would make some filmmakers shy about returning.
Penn, however, did not hesitate. On Saturday evening, he presented in Cannes his latest film, “Flag Day”, in which he is also a co-star.
Hours before walking the red carpet, Penn sat comfortably in a hotel bar, happy to be back. The festival is the biggest in the world, he said. “Everyone knows this is the big game.
And it’s a game that Penn welcomes. Cannes is well worth it, even if it does take a few lumps.
“Bad things, these days I’ve been at such extreme ends on it. It’s like: whatever, ”says Penn. “The point is, I’m sure I know as much – more – about acting than almost any of these reviews. And I’m very confident in the performance that concerns me the most.
With that, Penn raises his hand and points to where his daughter, Dylan Penn, is sitting. Dylan, 30, is the star of “Flag Day”. She’s already tried herself in the theater, but it’s easily her biggest role to date. In the film, adapted from Jennifer Vogel’s 2005 memoir Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life, she plays Jennifer Vogel, the journalist daughter of a con artist and counterfeiter (played by Penn).
His father’s confidence is not out of place. Dylan is natural, composed and captivating. She already looks like a veteran, which one would expect from Penn and Robin Wright’s child. And these criticisms? Variety said the film “reveals that Dylan Penn is a major actor.”
But for a long time, Dylan never wanted to star.
“Growing up, being around actors and being on set was really something that didn’t interest me at all,” says Dylan. “I always thought, and I still think, that my passion is to work behind the camera. But as soon as I expressed the desire to do this sort of thing, my two parents said separately: you won’t be a good director if you don’t know what it is to be in the place of a actor.
Dylan takes a step forward in the movies at the same time his father retires. Penn, 60, is filming Sam Esmail’s Watergate series for Starz, starring Julia Roberts. But he recently moved away from Hollywood. Penn is devoting more time to Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), the non-profit organization he created after the 2010 earthquake to help Haitians. Haiti has this week plunged into crisis again after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, a situation that Penn describes as heartbreaking.
“These people worked so hard to uplift their country and that kind of horrible violence, cynicism – whatever my suspicions, the motivation was,” he says. “I’m glad our teams are safe at the moment, but it’s horrible. “
During the pandemic, CORE erected testing and vaccination sites, including one at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and distributed millions of shots. In the movies, Penn still has a couple of roles coming up that he promised to do years earlier. But beyond?
“So I just don’t know. I would be very surprised. I don’t think I would start a movie without knowing if it was going to be a movie. And I don’t think I would direct anything that wasn’t a movie unless it was on the Broadway stage, ”he said, then smiled. “There’s a simpler way to put it: I’m not interested in directing for the small screen. “
Penn increasingly disagrees with Hollywood’s dominant priorities. He’s never made a franchise movie. He laments the Marvel movies and “how much it has taken up space and taken so long in the careers of so many talented people.” He misses the cinema which is not “just dazzling, Cirque du Soleil films”.
The so-called “cancellation culture”, which he also has problems with. Arguing that today he would not be allowed to play gay icon Harvey Milk (2018 ‘Milk’), Penn recently said that soon only Danish princes would play Hamlet..
But perhaps his biggest gripe is the start of live-action movie releases. “The way I’ve always said it is, she’s not the girl I fell in love with,” says Penn.
MGM will release “Flag Day” in theaters on August 13; Penn considers himself “lucky to have a movie that’s going to be a movie.” But it took years to reach this stage. Dylan first read the book when his father picked him up at the age of 15. Many possible iterations followed – Penn hadn’t originally planned on directing – but the prospect of making the movie with Dylan was appealing.
“I always thought if she wanted to do it, I would encourage her,” says Penn.
For Dylan, “Flag Day” father-daughter relationship – Jennifer tries to help and stabilize her hustler dad but also inherits some of her more destructive scam habits – is a half-reflection of their own bond.
“She’s always strived to have that really honest and transparent relationship with her father that she never had in return,” said Dylan Penn. “I tried to have this with my dad and got it back. ”
“It brought us closer together than we’ve ever been,” she adds. “Sure, there were times when I would respond or I had an attitude, but it was like: you can’t. He’s your boss. It’s work. He’s not your father right now.
Dylan admits that the experience has been so satisfying that she would like to continue playing. Her father, she thinks, can “pass the torch a little bit,” she says. Hopper Jack Penn, his younger brother, also co-starred in the film. The rest of the cast are more veteran, notably Josh Brolin and Regina King. Original songs by Cat Power, Eddie Vedder and Glen Hansard contribute to the score.
But the most vibrant parts of “Flag Day” are the scenes between Dylan and his father.
“Dylan is – and I can say it equally for how I feel about her as a person and as an actress – as simple as it gets,” Penn said. “It’s a great quality to play. “
Follow AP screenwriter Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP