Little Ashes

Film
2 out of 5 stars
SURREALITY BITES Pattinson portrays the clock-melting artist as a young man.
SURREALITY BITES Pattinson portrays the clock-melting artist as a young man.

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

A young man named Luis Buuel (McNulty) introduces his newest classmate, Salvador Dal (Twilight’s Pattinson), to a friend: “Federico, writer and poet,” Buuel says. He’s referring, of course, to Seor Garca Lorca (Beltrn); such exchanges may have even the staunchest admirers reaching for their oxygen masks. Artists’ lives are rarely as interesting as their art, and Little Ashes risks trivializing its subjects’ work as mere responses to history, as opposed to genius that happened to grow in, and react against, a fascist context. The core of the film is the debated—but steamily depicted—relationship between Dal and Lorca, subject to the painter’s notorious whims. (“Federico, you’ve become so...liberal,” he whines toward the end.) Giving itself plausible deniability, the movie has the closing titles call it a friendship.

All biopics invite charges of reduction, but the best manage to avoid the feeling of a greatest hits. (Dal and Buuel release a new movie. “You know what they call this film? 'An Andalusian Dog,’?” Lorca scoffs. “I’m from where, exactly?”) Yes, Dal grew a preposterous mustache to antagonize people; no, it probably didn’t get as big a laugh as Pattinson does when he wears it. The paradox of the film’s approach is that it normalizes figures who sought in their art to confound the ordinary.—Ben Kenigsberg

Opens Fri.

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