CANNES-Hollywood star Sean Penn fears his new movie may never be released in the United States after its critical mauling at the Cannes film festival, French media said Sunday.

“I proudly defend my film. If people don’t get it, I won’t force them,” the actor-director told the Nice Matin daily about his aid worker love story, “The Last Face”, which one reviewer trashed as a “stunningly self-important but numbingly empty cocktail of romance and insulting refugee porn”.

The romance starring Javier Bardem and Penn’s former partner Charlize Theron is set jarringly against a backdrop of various African bloodbaths.

It was booed and jeered at its Cannes press screenings and got just 0.2 in an international critics’ poll organised by the trade magazine Screen - the worst score in the survey’s 13-year history. “We don’t have a distributor and the welcome in Cannes hasn’t helped matters,” Penn added, in comments published in French.

To add to Penn’s discomfort, he and Theron were clearly far from at ease in each other’s company, making their press conference and red carpet premiere at Cannes all the more excruciating.

“For me life continues... but I am really worried for those with money in the project,” the director of “The Pledge” and “Into The Wind” told the daily. “It doesn’t change anything for me to cry about it.”

Sean Penn with his daughter Dylan Penn.