REVIEW: Little Ashes

There's no folly quite like the Life of the Artist biopic folly, a genre that practically guarantees

Little Ashes (15)

Director Paul Morrison Starring Robert Pattinson, Javier Beltran, Mathew McNulty, Marina Gatell Margarita, Arly Jover

107 mins


There's no folly quite like the Life of the Artist biopic folly, a genre that practically guarantees to leave everyone involved looking a little foolish and diminish the achievement of the artist portrayed. Even by those standards though this telling of the lives of Dali, Lorca and Bunuel from their first meeting in art school in Madrid up to the start of the Spanish Civil War, is a bit special.

Right from the opening title card: "The year 1922. Spain is dominated by the army, the church and large landowners. Conservative morality invades every sphere of life: social, artistic and sexual. But a breeze is stirring throughout the land...." - you know you are in for a cack-handed experience.

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Nothing though prepares you for the hilarious moment Pattinson, him out of teen swoon vampire romance Twilight, first appears on screen as the shy young virginal Dali. His face may be paler and more beautiful than Valentino's but as he steps out of car in a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit he reminds you more of Tommy Cooper in drag, possibly because he has a lumbering physical awkwardness and an air of total bewilderment.

The opening Portrait of the Artist as a Big Girl's Blouse section is consistently amusing but 20 minutes in, Dali gets his hair cut and dresses in a suit and much of the fun goes out of the film. All you are left with is an excruciating prosaic film which is always telling you (in fact spelling things out for you as slowly and as clearly as possible) that which it should be showing you.

Pattinson is a unique case because he seems to have become famous almost without doing anything. He became a star before his fans had even seen Twilight. Dali is an impossible part to play and it would've taken an exceptional actor to pull off the role; Pattinson seems to have learnt his acting style from watching silent movies. But there's an endearing Eddie the Eagle integrity and heroism to his failure; you may even leave thinking he deserves his stardom.