Colin Farrell is Arturo Bandini, a young would-be writer who comes to Depression-era Los Angeles to make a name for himself. While there, he meets beautiful barmaid Camilla (Salma Hayek), a Mexican immigrant who hopes for... more » a better life by marrying a wealthy American. Both are trying to escape the stigma of their ethnicity in blue-blood California. The passion that arises between them is palpable ? if they could only set aside their ambitions and submit to it. Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown) directs this outcasts? tale of desire in the desert, co-starring Donald Sutherland (Pride and Prejudice).« less
Michael M. (bugsyboy) from LEAWOOD, KS Reviewed on 10/16/2009...
Very interesting period piece set in LA during the depression. Salma Hayek is absolutely breathtaking. This is an interesting study of love during a time of severe racism against both Italians and Mexicans. Colin Farrell is convincing as an Italian American though he is actually Irish. Worth a look.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Critics Didn't Love The Film, but Give It A Chance, You Migh
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 08/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I know, the critics didn't love ASK THE DUST. I think I know why. Any film that has a writer as a protagonist, who writes what sounds like amateur prose and falls in love with a woman who seems to have more than a few similarities, at least health wise to the heroines of CAMILLE/LA TRAVIATA isn't going to make too many critics cheer. They've seen it all before and believe it was done better in earlier versions. It's also a bit far fetched to believe that a mediocre at best writer would have a champion in a figure like H. L. Mencken, but it all happens in this film. There is also a character who doesn't add much to the film but is played by a revered veteran, in this case Donald Sutherland. Fail to use a great actor in a proper way and the critics will balk. Of course there are times when clichés on the screen work well on the written page, and people I know who have read the 1939 classic on which the film is based say that the book does work well, but critics didn't seem to believe that it happened in this film.
While the critics may have their points, I enjoyed this film. Colin Farrell plays Arturo Bandini, a son of Italian immigrants from Colorado who hopes to become a successful writer. His character remains consistent throughout the film and while we know we should be rooting for him, we're not sure if we like him. Salma Hayek is Camilla, the Mexican waitress who becomes the love interest of Bandini. The two clash and become lovers and clash again. It had a feel of the 1930's and I enjoyed that a Depression Era story took place in somewhere other than Chicago, New York, or Boston. While I didn't buy the main character's success and luck--I may have believed it if he had received at least one rejection instead of a check for a short story and another check as an advance for a novel--he did have some characteristics of an aspiring writer. The immigration and prejudice issues were accurate for the period and the love story believable.
For me, this is a three and a half star film, but since I have to choose at either three or four, I'll choose four. The setting is incredible and while I wouldn't call this the best performance for either Hayek or Farrell, this is not meant to be a criticism. Farrell has demonstrated the ability to be at home in box office blockbusters and independent films, so we know he's versatile, and Salma Hayek's performance in FRIDA alone demonstrates her talent. The story does hold together and while far fetched at times is somewhat plausible. Overall, I believe the great talent both in front of and behind the camera (directed by Robert Towne of CHINATOWN fame) leads viewers to expect more, but what we have isn't bad and is enjoyable. "
The more I think about it the more I'm smitten...
Damian Gunn | I am everywhere | 08/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"`Ask the Dust' is not a bad movie, not by any means, but I will say that even with it's under two-hour running time it seems a bit long. The fact that this is a slow moving drama of course doesn't help the matter, but what does help is the dedication both Colin and Salma give to their characters. This film is adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by John Fante about an Italian writer Aturo Bandini (Farrell) as he moves to LA in 1932 in pursuit of inspiration for his next short story. As he struggles to find that inspiration he meets a sassy young barmaid Camilla (Hayek) who both tests his patience and his heart strings, for she is everything he wishes he had and yet is trying to escape.
They begin their love affair fighting and they continue fighting throughout most of the film. It's a wonder they stay together, but it's apparent that they see in each other something that makes them happy. Both of them share the similar wanting of acceptance, and neither of them are comfortable with their place in society. Camilla in particular is ashamed of her name, and Bandini even makes mention to a day when he won't be ashamed of the name he was given.
There are two scenes in this film that brought me to tears, the first being Aturo's encounter with the lovely stranger Vera (Idina Menzel). It was the first scene in the film where I was brought to the realization that this movie had a meaning, and from that heart wrenching scene on I was absorbed in this picture. Her story is beautiful and touching, and the look on Aturo's face perfectly captures the essence of what we should be feeling at that very moment. The second scene is the love scene between Aturo and Camilla, which takes place towards the end of the film. It was so tastefully done, so beautiful and serene that it took all the tension between them out of the picture and delivered a touching and beautiful encounter that said more than words could ever do. Truly the most touching scene in the film and one of the most beautiful scene's I've seen in recent cinema (and that comment has nothing to do with the fact that both are eye-candy, it's all in the emotion, and believe me, the emotion was there).
So, my final analysis, after much thought and deliberation, is that `Ask the Dust' is a good movie made better by the chemistry of the two leads. It could have been much better had it paced itself a little better, but it's forgiven for once you understand the underlying message of this film you can appreciate it much better for what it is. I would have changed a few things but bottom line is it's still a wonderful film and it delivers what it intended to. Brilliant job on the actors involved, Colin who at first I felt was miscast blew me away with a few important scenes, and Hayek I feel is at her finest."
I Really Enjoyed it!
Michael A. Newman | New Hyde Park, NY | 03/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This highly enjoyable film is told in a narrated form like a Raymond Chandler story. Collin Farrell plays a young writer named Bandini who recently moved to Los Angeles from Colorado. He lives in a type of boarding house where he can just enter his room through the window and he has the view out of the window of the first palm tree he has ever seen. Donald Sutherland plays his alcoholic neighbor who constantly barges into Bandini's room (it is never locked ) to talk about life and to let Bandini know when he is entertaining the milkman so Bandini can grab some milk from the unwatched milk truck.
Bandini idolizes M L Menckin and aspires to be just like him. He writes stories based on his experiences and submits them to Menckin, hoping that Menckin will publish them. Down to his last nickel, Bandini goes to a bar and orders a cup of coffee from the exotic looking Mexican waitress (Salma Hayak). The coffee comes literally curdled from probably spoiled milk. Bandini uses this to appear angry at Hayak because he can think of no better way to strike up a conversation. He later goes back to apologize to Hayak by having the bartender give her a copy of his one published article (Bandini seems to use this ruse with other people when he owes them money). What Bandini doesn't know is that Hayak cannot read English so she cannot really appreciate the "gift" that he left for her and this throws Bandini into a rage.
However, Bandini seems to be totally smitten with Hayak's looks so he continues to pursue her until he has another fight with her. In the meantime a woman comes into Bandini's life who worships Bandini for his writing. The woman is an abuse spouse and Bandini is eventually smitten by her as well. Later when Hayak comes back to Bandini because she too was abused, Bandini then re-falls in love with her. Their relationship has to go through tribulations because of society not readily accepting Mexicans and because Hayak is hiding a serious illness from Bandini.
The film is wonderfully directed and is very open about the racism that existed at that time. Hayak never looked more beautiful and all the acting is first-rate. "
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 09/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ever since Frida, I have been waiting for Salma to come back and do a similar impressing movie and of course Salma pull this one off very well same goes for Collin Farrell. I don't think a lot of people really understand what they're seeing here. Never mind the source material; this is a glossy Hollywood melodrama in the vein of 'Some Come Running,' which is a good comparison, for that movie also dealt with the Artist Coming Into His Own and evolving into a more empathetic human being through a disastrous love story. I personally enjoyed it throughout. For me, the characters seemed real - people who were trying to be someone they were not, which fits with their environment.
Arturo and Camilla seemed to "fight" their love for each other, moment to moment alternately revealing or suppressing their prejudices. Take out the racial element and it reminded me a bit of Deanie and Bud in 'Splendor in the Grass', you almost expect them to burst into flames as they battle the demons that conspire to keep them apart. Just when they finally seem to find some peace with each other it all falls apart during the simple gesture of going on their "first" date. The passion between Atruro and Camillia is great and the love scenes are fantastic especially a flashback scene that takes place in the ocean. I was touched by Arturo's attempts to teach Camilla to read from one particular book (title of my review) and attain citizenship.
I was also impressed with the performances of Idina Menzel (especially the scene's with Atrturo mention by reviewer Damian) and Donald Sutherland (the latter a bit reminiscent of Sutherland's Homer Simpson in ("The Day of the Locust"). I was so glad to see Robert Towne's name in the credits again, I based my decision to see the film on my high regard for his work and that of Salma's as well. I find it ironic that Robert Towne, a product of the last golden age of cinema, would re-appear just as we seem to be having a 70's-like renaissance in independent film, just like the 70's/Vietnam era? The parallels are there.
`Ask the Dust' is what it is. If you don't like melodramatic tropes you won't like this, as the movie adheres to a lot of them: After this movie, watch the milk you put in your coffee. "
"Becoming man and beast"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/28/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ask The Dust is a film of great beauty, but it's also a film of great disappointment. The art direction, the gorgeous creation of Downtown Los Angeles circa 1933 is unsurpassed and is one of the most spectacular set pieces you will ever see. Unfortunately though, the movie is long and sort of outstays it's welcome and it commits the inexplicable sin of being rather boring, particularly about two thirds of the way through when it really loses steam.
Colin Farrell - a bit miscast here - stars as Arturo Bandini an Italian writer who has arrived in Los Angeles where he hopes to make it big as a writer - he's already had one story published, in a fictionalized version of Mencken's American Mercury magazine. Ensconcing himself in a shabby hotel near Bunker Hill, downtown Los Angeles, Bandini begins to write what will hopefully be his masterpiece.
Ablaze with ambition and sexual frustration, Bandini is down to his last dime when he buys a cup of coffee at a downtown cafe and meets Camilla (Salma Hayek), a fiery Mexican waitress who can't read English, has a real attitude towards upstart young writers and has aspirations to become as Anglicized as she possibly can. Each in their own way, hopes to escape the horrors of racism, but they find themselves enigmatically drawn to each other and eventually fall in love.
Their relationship, however, is faced with many tests full of love and hate as they struggle to overcome their own fears and biases to form a meaningful bond. And much of the action comes out of the maddening way that two compatible people will unaccountably behave when thrust into each other's presence.
There are lots of heavy-handed narrative developments - Hayek and Farrell cavort together in the Pacific Ocean, there's an earthquake, an out-of-left-field fatal illness - that dominate the film's second half and the efforts at showing societal racism particularly towards Camilla are often not as developed as they should be.
While the script is often clunky and wooden and it's two stars don't really have the sort of fiery sexual passion that they should have in a movie such as this, Ask The Dust is saved by its beautiful images and sumptuousness. Visually, the film is filled with evocative details of an innocent L.A. before the oil companies stripped away the wonderful Red Trams and all the cars and the freeways turned it into the dirty, filthy city that it is now.
Ask The Dust offers a stunning depiction of 1930s Los Angeles, and the director Robert Towne has really managed to capture the essential ingredients of Robert Towne John Fante's source material. Farrell and Hayek are also charismatic performers, but the movie as a whole is rather wet and innocuous - it isn't nearly as involving as it should be. Mike Leonard July 06. "