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Ask the Dust

4.0 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Colin Farrell is Arturo Bandini, a young would-be writer who comes to Depression-era Los Angeles to make a name for himself. While there, he meets beautiful barmaid Camilla (Salma Hayek), a Mexican immigrant who hopes for a better life by marrying a wealthy American. Both are trying to escape the stigma of their ethnicity in blue-blood California. The passion that arises between them is palpable – if they could only set aside their ambitions and submit to it. Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown) directs this outcasts’ tale of desire in the desert, co-starring Donald Sutherland (Pride and Prejudice).

Special Features

  • "The Making of Ask the Dust" featurette
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Donald Sutherland, Eileen Atkins, Idina Menzel
  • Directors: Robert Towne
  • Writers: Robert Towne, John Fante
  • Producers: Andreas Grosch, Andreas Schmid, Chris Roberts, David Selvan, Don Granger
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: July 25, 2006
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FIHN5M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,007 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ask the Dust" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
`Ask the Dust' is not a bad movie, not by any means, but I will say that even with it's under two-hour running time it seems a bit long. The fact that this is a slow moving drama of course doesn't help the matter, but what does help is the dedication both Colin and Salma give to their characters. This film is adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by John Fante about an Italian writer Aturo Bandini (Farrell) as he moves to LA in 1932 in pursuit of inspiration for his next short story. As he struggles to find that inspiration he meets a sassy young barmaid Camilla (Hayek) who both tests his patience and his heart strings, for she is everything he wishes he had and yet is trying to escape.

They begin their love affair fighting and they continue fighting throughout most of the film. It's a wonder they stay together, but it's apparent that they see in each other something that makes them happy. Both of them share the similar wanting of acceptance, and neither of them are comfortable with their place in society. Camilla in particular is ashamed of her name, and Bandini even makes mention to a day when he won't be ashamed of the name he was given.

There are two scenes in this film that brought me to tears, the first being Aturo's encounter with the lovely stranger Vera (Idina Menzel). It was the first scene in the film where I was brought to the realization that this movie had a meaning, and from that heart wrenching scene on I was absorbed in this picture. Her story is beautiful and touching, and the look on Aturo's face perfectly captures the essence of what we should be feeling at that very moment. The second scene is the love scene between Aturo and Camilla, which takes place towards the end of the film.
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This highly enjoyable film is told in a narrated form like a Raymond Chandler story. Collin Farrell plays a young writer named Bandini who recently moved to Los Angeles from Colorado. He lives in a type of boarding house where he can just enter his room through the window and he has the view out of the window of the first palm tree he has ever seen. Donald Sutherland plays his alcoholic neighbor who constantly barges into Bandini's room (it is never locked ) to talk about life and to let Bandini know when he is entertaining the milkman so Bandini can grab some milk from the unwatched milk truck.

Bandini idolizes M L Menckin and aspires to be just like him. He writes stories based on his experiences and submits them to Menckin, hoping that Menckin will publish them. Down to his last nickel, Bandini goes to a bar and orders a cup of coffee from the exotic looking Mexican waitress (Salma Hayak). The coffee comes literally curdled from probably spoiled milk. Bandini uses this to appear angry at Hayak because he can think of no better way to strike up a conversation. He later goes back to apologize to Hayak by having the bartender give her a copy of his one published article (Bandini seems to use this ruse with other people when he owes them money). What Bandini doesn't know is that Hayak cannot read English so she cannot really appreciate the "gift" that he left for her and this throws Bandini into a rage.

However, Bandini seems to be totally smitten with Hayak's looks so he continues to pursue her until he has another fight with her. In the meantime a woman comes into Bandini's life who worships Bandini for his writing. The woman is an abuse spouse and Bandini is eventually smitten by her as well.
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Format: DVD
I know, the critics didn't love ASK THE DUST. I think I know why. Any film that has a writer as a protagonist, who writes what sounds like amateur prose and falls in love with a woman who seems to have more than a few similarities, at least health wise to the heroines of CAMILLE/LA TRAVIATA isn't going to make too many critics cheer. They've seen it all before and believe it was done better in earlier versions. It's also a bit far fetched to believe that a mediocre at best writer would have a champion in a figure like H. L. Mencken, but it all happens in this film. There is also a character who doesn't add much to the film but is played by a revered veteran, in this case Donald Sutherland. Fail to use a great actor in a proper way and the critics will balk. Of course there are times when clichés on the screen work well on the written page, and people I know who have read the 1939 classic on which the film is based say that the book does work well, but critics didn't seem to believe that it happened in this film.

While the critics may have their points, I enjoyed this film. Colin Farrell plays Arturo Bandini, a son of Italian immigrants from Colorado who hopes to become a successful writer. His character remains consistent throughout the film and while we know we should be rooting for him, we're not sure if we like him. Salma Hayek is Camilla, the Mexican waitress who becomes the love interest of Bandini. The two clash and become lovers and clash again. It had a feel of the 1930's and I enjoyed that a Depression Era story took place in somewhere other than Chicago, New York, or Boston.
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