Feature

Ask the Dust

Doomed lovers battle each other and their own prejudices.

Screenwriter/director Robert Towne stumbled upon John Fante's 1939 novel Ask the Dust while researching his film Chinatown in the early '70s, said Joanne Kaufman in The Wall Street Journal. Intrigued by its thwarted romance between a young Italian-American writer and a feisty Mexican waitress, he's brought it to the screen'”though it took 30 years. 'œHow nice it would be to be able to report that it was well worth the wait.' It's gorgeously shot, but the images of moonlit oceans, mountains, and cactus only underscore 'œthe emptiness of the drama.' Ask the Dust has been 'œless adapted than gentrified,' said J. Hoberman in The Village Voice. A story of masochistic torment has become a 'œsentimental love story.' Arturo Bandini arrives in California having published just one short story. As he falls in love with waitress Camilla Lopez, they wrestle with the demons of self-hatred and prejudice. The moral is apparently that 'œeach man kills the thing he loves. Towne not only dramatizes the point, but demonstrates it.' While the film lacks the urgency of Fante's book, it does showcase some fine work by Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek, said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Farrell, who often seems lost in his own movies, invests Arturo 'œwith both focus and tenderness.'

Rating: R

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