Little Ashes

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Pattinson Sucks – Again

Little Ashes

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Javier Beltran

By Robert Patrick

Little Ashes is about braggart painter and purported intellect Salvador Dali. The movie, considering the subject matter, should be full of traumatic incidents, wacky nuances, and artistic revelry. The strange, protruding mustache is there, twisting upward like some sort of mangled vine. The idiosyncratic quirkiness, so underlined by Dali’s public arrogance, is whipped up in director Paul Morrison’s gossip-wound biopic about the painter. We see Dali’s lustful, erratic relationships bounce furiously against his career as the decades roll by. One of the relationships, in particular, is boldly highlighted during the formative years of Dali’s elicit life. The whirlwind of a relationship mentioned, here with fellow student and artistic contemporary Federico Garcia Lorca, is ripe with masochistic brutality, emotional violence, and animalistic love making. Besides being reputed as unsavory and lacking in congeniality, the two men, in and out of love for several years, end up assisting each other in their careers.

The movie itself isn’t really much about Dali’s paintings; in fact, there are only two or three pieces that end up being seen in the actual picture itself. Morrison, in directing Little Ashes, chooses to plow his hands into the messy, operatic tension between Dali and Lorca. With these types of egos bucking heads, there should be a considerable amount of electric dialogue being exchanged. I would expect Dali to cock his head back, scoff at how futile emotions are, then blast a canvas with his paintbrush. Most of Morrison’s opus, however, looks forced and void of palpability.

How would you expect these two wunderkinds, full of energy and egotism, to be like in their youth? Would you place your bets on playful malevolence? Maybe full of chaotic uncertainty? Well, if you live in the realms of Little Ashes, you get little of the aforementioned acts. Most of the time, with moderate exceptions, these two historical entities look like soap opera characters; we see them writhe, partake in unnatural verbal smatterings, then start to writhe again.

Half way through the film you realize that the only thing that resembles Dali is the strange architecture bolted to his upper lip. I tried to buy Robert Pattinson as the boastful painter, but, aside from his bone structure looking mildly similar, I am left feeling cheated and uninspired by his superfluous performance. Pattinson, especially in the earlier segments of the film, portrays Dali as a sort of goth kid – he meanders around, misunderstood, while he slinks his eyes to the floor. Little Ashes looks like it could’ve been produced by Mtv films and Hot Topic stores in a bid to sell silk-screened retro shirts of Salvador Dali’s animated stare. Javier Beltran, who plays opposite of Pattison, looks like he is straining to look even semi-coordinated in Morrison’s dull exploration of love.

And though I’d love to believe that the line “no limit” is the hottest thing to whisper while having sex, I think it’s pretty ridiculous – especially during these preposterously over saturated love scenes. I also, during my regrettable recollections on the film, do not know why Little Ashes’ filmmakers jumped ahead, without notice, to ten years later in the lives of Dali and Lorca at one point in the film. Perhaps Morrison thought that the audience would have their laptops open in the theatre to wikipedia any gaps in Dali’s life.

I’m not sure I could recommend Little Ashes to an audience. The entire picture is completely pretentious and morbidly underdeveloped. I suppose you could see it if you wanted to watch Robert Pattinson behave like a Hanna-Barbara cartoon, but I don’t think you want that.

2/5

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Author: Rob Patrick

A member of the San Diego Film Critics Society, Rob created Cinema Spartan after he stepped down as the editor of a weekly. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. He has also introduced films with the Pacific Arts Movement. He co-owns two dire wolves, Buckley and Ruffin. At any given time, he can tell you superfluous hockey statistics. He is the chancellor of Tapatio, an advocate of iced tea, and an owner of at least 70 pairs of Vans.

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