Last night PJ and I watched Little Ashes, which stars Robert Pattinson and Javier Beltrán as Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca, respectively. The movie follows these men’s relationship from the time they meet at university in Madrid to Lorca’s assassination by the Fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Here’s the trailer:

My response to this movie was rather mixed. On the one hand, I’ll admit up front that I didn’t know much about either Dalí or Lorca before seeing this movie. While my ignorance made the film difficult to follow at times, it also meant that I learned something about these men, which I liked. On the other hand, the movie did little to help someone ignorant like me, which made the film unnecessarily difficult to admire or enjoy. I liked it, but I thought that it could have been a much better film.

Let’s start with the positive. Beltran is especially good in the role of Lorca, and in many ways the film is really about him. He reminds me of a young Antonio Banderas or Javier Bardem. What he brings to the role of Lorca is a great combination of sensitivity and masculinity. I really liked his ability to avoid depicting Lorca’s homosexuality as effeminacy. Too often, gays are simply depicted as mincing would-be women. Beltran’s Lorca is just a poet who happens to like men in general and Dali in particular. He’s very good in this role, and I hope someone like Pedro Almodovar casts him in a big movie soon.