Little Ashes, stripped to its core, is a film about love, creative genius, and, with 1920s Spain as the backdrop, the film has all the essentials to be something moving and extraordinary. Unfortunately, an uninspiring script deflates a flick that had the capacity to address a serious issue that still reverberates in today’s society.
Robert Pattinson is one of the hottest young actors in films today, thanks mostly to the success of the Twilight series and a gaggle of prepubescent and beyond females, but he has yet to put together a complete performance.
In Ashes, Pattinson plays the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. At times he’s flat, at times he’s brilliant and yet at other times he’s nonexistent. When he’s on his game, Pattinson commands the screen with a presence that is as powerful as any in Hollywood, but consistency is the key.
The flick is the tale of the tangled relationships of Dalí, Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltran) and aspiring filmmaker Luis Buñuel (Matthew McNulty) after meeting in Madrid in 1922 and how each creative force helped transform the medium to which they were enslaved.
When Dalí arrives, Lorca and Buñuel’s friendship will never be the same. The dynamic the duo shares is thrust into chaos with the addition of the brilliant, but equally eccentric Dalí. It soon becomes apparent to Buñuel that Lorca is withdrawing and becoming captivated by Dalí and he begins to question to true motive behind the fascination.
Dalí and Lorca spend the summer in Cadaques, where their friendship becomes more and the doomed nature of their relationship becomes evident. Upon returning the university, Dalí leaves Lorca to follow Buñuel to the artistic utopia that was Paris.
The rest of the film shows the transformation of Dalí and Lorca and how to two continue on paths that carry them further from each other.
Beltran brings a calm sensitivity to Lorca and is easily the star of the film. His mannerisms and physicality comes off as natural, whereas Pattinson always seems to be uncomfortably searching for his character.
It’s disappointing that a story dealing with three significant Spanish artists has little in the way of creativity or ingenious content. The film is uneven, boring, but most of all uninspiring.