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  Publicity Stills of "Ask the Dust"
(Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Drama/Romance
Director: Robert Towne
Starring: Collin Farrell, Salma Hayek, James Kirk, Idina Menzel, Donald Sutherland
RunTime: 1 hr 57 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: R21 (Sexual Content)

Opening Day: 27 July 2006


Adapted from the John Fante's Depression Era novel about a fiery Mexican beauty, Camilla (Hayek), who hopes to rise above her station by marrying a wealthy American. That is complicated by meeting Arturo Bandini (Farrell), a first-generation Italian hoping to land a writing career and a blue-eyed blonde on his arm.

Movie Review:

Surely a romance movie with good looking bad boy Colin Farrell, and sexy Selma Hayek playing the leads, is almost a given that they will sizzle the screen, no? Unfortunately, the two leads fizzled instead, let down by their lack of screen chemistry, and an unconventional romance storyline.

While the movie is beautifully shot with South Africa doubling for a Depression-era Los Angeles, and aided with heaps of computer generated graphics, the movie is an acquired taste of a romance, opting not for an out and out love story, but one which meanders around, and not quite getting to the point. Based on the novel written by John Fante, this semi-autobiographical tale adapts from the scribe's experience in his early days while living in a boarding house.

Farrell plays Italian Arturo Bandini, an impoverished writer who's struggling with his Great American Novel, while Hayek takes on a role as a feisty Mexican waitress Camilla Lopez, who hopes to raise her social stature by hooking up with an American. Naturally their ideal life partners aren't each other, but as Fate would allow it, their differences get put aside as they discover their pillar of strength in each other instead.

The narrative style is nothing new, especially for telling a story from the first perspective, heaping loads of voiceovers as well as having imaginary scenes filling in. The production sets are beautiful, and cinematography competent, however, these cannot compensate for a lack of a soul in the movie. What comes across is something quite artificial, with an attempt to tackle serious themes like prejudice, innate fear, and misconception, but splutters in its handling of the themes.

As mentioned earlier, the romance bit was unconventional and didn't wow, stemming from contempt initially rather than mutual attraction. Though it does pose a thought, whether one can love another despite having preconceived notions how one's other half would already be like. In the land of dreams where immigrants flock to, here's a movie that attempts to snapshot the bumpy ride in achieving those dreams, how two strangers can mean more to each other than they would consciously be aware of.

Sadly, the delivery wasn't as promising as it turned out to be, having to see its potential going to waste instead.


(Ask The Dust bites the dust and disappoints despite having two prominent eye-candy leads)

Review by Stefan Shih


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