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Sean Penn to direct The Last Face

Africa-set drama about a doctor working in famine relief zone set to become Penn’s fifth film behind the camera Sean Penn will return to the director’s chair for the first time since 2007’s critically acclaimed Into the Wild on the African-set romantic drama The Last Face, reports Variety.

Penn’s fifth film behind the cameras stars Javier Bardem and Charlize Theron as a doctor and relief worker who become involved. Bardem, described as a talented and charismatic medic, must eventually choose between romance and dedication to his work saving lives in war zones. Adele Exarchopoulos, the young French star of controversial Cannes Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Colour, has been cast as a journalist.

Penn and Bardem have been working together on the action thriller The Gunman, from Luc Besson protege Pierre Morel. The two-time Oscar winner was reported to be dating Theron in February.

The Last Face, based on a screenplay by The Yellow Handkerchief’s Erin Dignam, is due to shoot this summer on location in Africa.