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Little Ashes



Set against the background of 1920s Spain, where repression and political upheaval enveloped a nation on the verge of civil war, Little Ashes focuses on the emergence of three young artists, Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel and Federico Garcia Lorca. When Dali arrives fresh-faced at the University at the age of 18, Bunuel and Lorca welcome him into their decadent group, and the trio become fast friends. Their budding friendship is soon threatened, however, when Dali and Lorca develop a special bond in which their sexual and artistic explorations collide with personal ambition, love of country and their own passion for each other.


In a performance shot before Twilight made him an international star that women swoon over, Robert Pattinson may surprise fans with his spot-on portrayal of the sexually confused, over-the-top artist Salvador Dali. With his signature handlebar mustache and a serviceable Spanish accent, Pattinson captures the essence of the young Dali, convincing in his depiction of the artistic tirades, bisexual encounters and egotistical conceit that informed the great painter's early years. As the object of Dali's early affections, newcomer Javier Beltran is intriguing as the fatalistic and seductive playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca, while Matthew McNulty is quite fine as Bunuel, who himself would go on to become one of Spain's - and the world's - most important film directors. As Magdalena and Gala, the women who try to tame these artists, Marina Gatell and Arly Jover are beautiful and effective even though their roles are really sideshows to the film's true focus and intentions.


Despite the low budget, Madrid in the '20s is nicely suggested and meticulously recreated. Director Paul Morrison has a nice feel for the period and a good eye for casting these tricky roles.


The film tries to bite off more than it can chew, covering too much of the era and coming off as a mere overview of these times and key relationships. The idea of seeing the artists as young men is good but not enough time is taken to really show what they are made of. The artistic fire and sexual freedom that must have been prevalent then is glossed over and not totally convincing. This probably would have worked better as a TV mini-series.


As his first film post-Twilight, it won't matter. Robert Pattinson may be de-fanged here, but this independent art-house item won't be around long enough to become a blip on his new fandom's radar.


This small flick probably won't find its way to the local mall. Considering the hard "R" nature of the material, Pattinson's adoring young flock will probably have to wait to see it on DVD anyway.



Bottom Line rated this film 3 stars.