Little Ashes

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner7/05/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 107 mins

Engaging, beautifully shot and impressively acted drama, though it runs out of steam towards the end and lacks the courage of its convictions.

What's it all about?
Directed by Paul Morrison (Wondrous Oblivion), Little Ashes opens in Madrid in 1922, where the poet Federico Garcia Lorca (Javier Beltran), future filmmaker Luis Bunuel (Matthew McNulty) and flamboyant artist Salvador Dali (Twilight's Robert Pattinson) are all students at the Residencia de Estudiantes. As all three begin to make an impact on the art scene in different ways, they become increasingly close, until Bunuel notices that Lorca and Dali are actually closer than he's really comfortable with and lashes out in a homophobic attack.

With Bunuel out of the way, Dali and Lorca become soulmates, spending time together in Dali's home town of Cadaques, but eventually Dali follows Bunuel to Paris, abandoning Lorca. Years later, they meet again, but Dali's behaviour has become increasingly odd.

The Good
The film is beautifully shot throughout, courtesy of Adam Suschitzky's lush cinematography and some impeccable production design work. Similarly, the performances are excellent and there's strong chemistry between Pattinson and Beltran - their first kiss is surprisingly romantic.

In addition, the script crackles with good dialogue, pulling off the tricky feat of sounding realistic while still engaging in spirited artistic debate.

The Bad
That's not to say the film is perfect – for one thing, Morrison lacks the courage of his convictions when it comes to the love scenes, almost as if the film had been retrimmed to cash in on the potential Twilight audience. It also threatens to tip over into so-bad-it's-good territory in places, particularly during the (sort of) threesome scene – the look on Dali's face is almost certain to induce unintentional giggles.

Similarly, the film runs out of steam towards the end, limping towards a climax that lacks emotional weight and fails to deliver the requisite punch.

Worth seeing?
In short, Little Ashes is an engaging, sharply written drama about a fascinating period in time and three equally fascinating individuals. Worth seeing, despite its flaws.

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Little Ashes
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Content updated: 14/12/2019 09:31

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