Film review: Phony 'Little Ashes' is insufferable and dull

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Javier Beltran as Federico Garcia Lorca sitting with Robert Pattinson as Salvador Dali in "Little Ashes."

Regent Releasing

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LITTLE ASHES — ★ — Javier Beltran, Robert Pattinson, Marina Gatell; rated R (nudity, sex, profanity, vulgarity, violence, brief gore, slurs); Tower Theatre

Rather than picking an entire cast of Spanish performers or at least an ensemble of actors who speak the language fluently, the makers of the gay-interest drama "Little Ashes" cast a few English-language performers, including "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson.

To say that their attempts at a Spanish accent are unsuccessful is an understatement of epic proportions. But they are not the only phony aspect of this insufferable and dull film.

It's allegedly "based on" some diary writings of Salvador Dali, which hinted at a previous romantic relationship between the Dada Surrealist Spanish artist and a poet Federico Garcia Lorca.

However, the depiction of that relationship is unconvincing and laughably bad. So much so, in fact, that the only reason this film is getting any attention — or even a theatrical release — is that Pattinson is playing Dali.

Javier Beltran stars as Lorca, who we first meet when he is pursuing artistic endeavors in a Madrid university (the Residencia de Estudiantes), prior to the start of the Spanish Civil War.

Painter Dali is a new arrival at the university, though would-be filmmaker Luis Bunuel (Matthew McNulty) "discovers" him and introduces him to his inner circle of fellow surrealists.

They include Lorca, who becomes a passionate admirer of Dali's style — and his sometimes outspoken nature. And eventually, Lorca discovers that his feelings for Dali run deeper than just friendship.

Beltran tries to give this flimsy nonsense some weight, but Brits McNulty and Pattinson's attempts at a Spanish accent are woeful.

And once Pattinson starts wearing Dali's trademark, upward tilting moustache, his performance becomes over-the-top and cartoonish.

"Little Ashes" is rated R and features full male and female nudity, simulated sex and other sexual contact (both gay and straight), strong sexual language (profanity, slang and other suggestive talk), other off-color references and humor, brief violent content (some fisticuffs and brawling), brief but disturbing gory imagery (a re-creation of the eyeball-slicing scene from the infamous, 1929 short film "Un Chien Andalou"), and a few derogatory language and slurs (some based on sexual orientation). Running time: 112 minutes.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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