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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Little Ashes (review)

Not that the Twilight brigade will care — because, OMG, Robert Pattinson is almost like totally naked here! — but only indiscriminate vampire-swooning tweens will appreciate his portrayal of the surrealistic Spanish painter and filmmaker Salvador Dalí. For Pattinson’s interpretation of the man comes down to two hours of stultifying wide-eyed stares and mooning declarations such as “I’m Salvador Dalí, the savior of modern art” that play more as unintentional parody than as any attempt to understand a man whom — Philippa Goslett’s script would like us to believe — was a conflicted dreamer who was able to let loose in his art in a way he never was able to do in his own life. Director Paul Morrison (Solomon and Gaenor) makes some odd choices regarding what language we’re hearing this story in — these native Spaniards speak English, except when Dalí’s onetime friend Federico García Lorca is reciting his own poetry… and then the Spanish is drowned out by an English-language voiceover anyway, and the beauty of the original tongue is still lost. But never mind: the thrilling find of this mixed bag of a movie is Javier Beltrán as Lorca, Dalí’s might-have-been lover when they were young men at school together. Beltrán — a Spanish TV actor, though let’s hope we see much more of him on film — brings an ardent heartbreak to the sensitive writer and fervent political activist, so much so that it’s easier to believe that Little Ashes was meant to unite the viewer with the passionate Lorca against the seemingly insensate Dalí than it was intended to illuminate Dalí at all.


MPAA: rated R for sexual content, language and a brief disturbing image

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • Trish

    I’m VERY baffled and disappointed by many of the reviews I’ve seen for this film, including this insulting review which implies that those who enjoyed this film are somehow “indiscriminate” or “tweens” (including the entire audience of grown men and women that I saw the film with- who were moved to tears by the end).
    To me, this was a heartwrenching, passionate, and beautiful film. Within 10 minutes, I was in love with the characters and lost in the story of this brilliant, complex man who fought against who he was, and pushed away the only person he ever truly loved. Pattinson’s performance was OUTSTANDING. The way that he portrayed Dali’s transformation over the years, into an eccentric, famous artist, who tried to hide his true character underneath his public facade…was truly remarkable. In the beginning of the film, I fell in love with the sweet, sensitive Lorca and the soulful Dali. In the moments towards the end of the film when we saw the “real Dali” come out again from under his “mask”…the whole audience was sniffling…and by the last scene, everyone was in tears.
    such a BEAUTIFUL film. Javier was outstanding as well, but it was Pattinson who stole the show with his portrayal of Dali as a complex, two-sided individual who held the one that he loved just out of his reach.

  • Genevieve Gillespie

    I too was not impressed by the critic’s arrogant assessment of the delicate yet overwhelmingly passionate film Little Ashes that I just now finished watching. That the film was written in English with Spanish undertones simply reflects the fact that it was curtailed to a certain audience. Director Paul Morrison wanted viewers to relate to the characters in the film on as intimate a level as possible. The film lost no credibility being written in English, especially considering its culturally accurate musical score and scenery. Also, I feel that those who discredit Robert Pattinson because of his popularity are simply sore that he might actually possess enough talent to execute a complex role in an offbeat film. Yes, I agree that Javier Beltran was the ultimate show-stopper, but Pattinson displayed multiple sides of his character, demonstrating both Dali’s unrealistic facade and his very human faults and emotions. May I state here that I have never read or seen Twilight. So allow me to make a personal attack on our pompous movie critic by saying that he/she showed immaturity by not being capable of looking past bias to recognize a very touching and unique cinematic masterpiece.

  • linda d.

    truly a beautiful and touching film…Robert Pattinson portrayed a complex individual in a most touching way…a great career awaits him…however do not take away anything from Mr. Bertran….he was magnificent…would like to see more of him…what else has he done. no one should listen to critics…see the movie yourself and judge for yourself….remember critics are paid for their criticism…no criticism..no pay.

  • Julie

    How ironic that Pattison’s current commercial success is undermining his critical success. This is not the first review I’ve read which suggested that only those who swoon over him in Twilight will watch or enjoy this film, but that idea is ludicrous. For those to whom Pattinson is just a pretty face, this film would be a waste of time. This is the ACTOR at work, not the face, and seeing him in this film it’s impossible to think of him as anything but the character he is portraying – which, by the way, is not generally the fantasy of young girls. And for that matter, who would let a young girl watch this movie in the first place? I knew little about Dali and nothing about Lorca before I watched it, but it left me yearning to learn more about them. It’s a powerful, well-made, emotionally engrossing film – due mainly to the performances of both Pattinson and Bertran – and deserves so much more credit than it’s receiving. Definitely a film worth watching, with two young actors to look out for in the future.

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