Ask the Dust
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The Depression. 1930’s LA. A dapper Italian writer, Arturo Bandini (Colin Farrell) is hungry for food, women, and success. An immigrant Mexican waitress, Camilla Lopez (Salma Hayek) is looking to marry a wealthy American. The two meet, but not the way you’d expect. An interesting look at relationships ensues.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
When it comes to writing, Robert Towne is more than capable of writing screenplays that effectively exude the Golden era of the United States. With works like CHINATOWN and BONNIE AND CLYDE, Towne is no stranger to telling tales of intrigue and romance, filled with unconventional type characters. ASK THE DUST is his newest feature and it’s a decidedly mixed affair. On the one hand, he beautifully recreates a 1930’s Los Angeles with realistic characters that have real feelings. A very charming and dapper Colin Farrell lives by a dime a day, trying to figure things out. When he meets a beautiful waitress played by the smoking Salma Hayek, they don’t immediately fall in love, or do the dirty business. Instead, Towne effectively shows how a lot of relationships are formed. Farrell’s actions are interpreted by the female as him being an asshole (something I’m very familiar with). So, I liked the play between the characters as well as the people that played them.
I also highly dug the costumes, the Model Ts, and the badass 1930’s radio plays. Now, what dragged the film down several notches is the fact that the film does drag and features a real downer for an ending. What usually comes through in a novel, doesn’t necessarily translate well onto screen as we’ve seen time and time again. ASK THE DUST is based on John Fante’s novel which features a lot of character development. The unfortunate thing is not “much” happens overall. Ultimately, the film had character and style causing interest in the film by the viewer, but my interest waned near the final act and I didn’t like the ending much. In summary, I liked the film and what it was doing but the film’s pace slowed too much near the end.
Commentary by Director Robert Towne and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel >> This is your standard commentary track covering various aspects of production. This movie was a labor of love for Mr. Towne so he clearly is into the material.
“The Making of Ask the Dust” featurette >> A short EPK covering a few elements. Rather light.
When tragic characters simply wallow till a tragic ending, thing’s can get a little old. I really liked a lot of elements of ASK THE DUST but the core story, written in the 30’s, still carries that Depression with it and that hindered the film I think. Still, the film has a lot of quality and style and that has to count for something. This film is certainly bittersweet and not for the casual DVD watcher, though you do get to see Ms. Hayek in the buff!
This Movie Is >> Average