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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

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.


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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
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