Written and Directed
by Robert Towne
Running Time: 1:56
for some sexuality, nudity and language.
Ask the Dust was a meandering mess of a movie that had capable actors but a script that left them in the dust. Hey look, I just made a joke!
Arturo Bandini is an aspiring writer who moves to Los Angeles to make it big. Struggling to make ends
meet, he happens upon Camilla Lopez, a waitress at a local bar. From there the two go on a journey
together trying to make their lives better but having to deal with all sorts of issues.
Unfortunately, I can't really write more of a plot from Ask the Dust because that's pretty much all there is. Arturo is in L.A., lives in a hotel where he can sneak in and out of the window, has a strange neighbor who wants to give
him milk, and has the most up and down personality of anyone I've seen in a while. One second he's nice
and charming and the next he's insulting Camilla. What she sees in him other than his looks is beyond
me. From the second he meets her, he insults her, and for no particular reason. She in turn is
sometimes sweet, sometimes mean, and also all over the place. Besides her looks, she doesn't have
much going for her, but at least she appears to want to make something of herself. She talks about
becoming a citizen and learning how to read, although it takes Arturo to set her on the right path. This is
one of those movies where you have two fantastically good looking people who fall for each other because
they look good, not for any other reason. Right up until the very end of the movie they're still insulting each
The movie looks good. Its well shot and well lit. The sets are nice to look at. The only time it got dark
and hard to watch was when the two leads decided to swim naked in the ocean. So basically the one
time we needed to see what was happening, the director decided to tone it down. It was kind of shocking
actually to see that. I didn't see what the purpose was, besides the fact that there were two hot people
that audiences would probably want to see naked. But from the character's standpoint, there didn't seem
to be any real reason for it. And the sex scene that took place later also was unnecessary. Not that I'm
totally against random nudity, especially in movies like this where at least I had something to keep me
awake. The story started and stopped and had things happen in the middle that were just there. It was
like a slice-of-life movie about two people I didn't care the least bit about. Take the entire sequence with
the woman who stalks Arturo. She shows up out of nowhere, banging on his door. She looks like she's
been burned below the waist (and possibly above it.) She's in love with Arturo because she heard him
speak once at a bar. Then she disappears. A little while later Arturo goes to find her because he wants
someone to love him. They sleep together, he leaves, there's an earthquake and she dies. Umm, what?
What the hell was the point of that? Normally I'd say something like, if they only cut out 20 minutes from
the movie, made it tighter, it could have been bearable. But in this case, they could have turned it into a
20 minute short and I'm not sure I would have liked it. Give me a story, give me people I care about, give
me something besides a few minutes of naked romping on the beach.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I'd take a pass on Ask the Dust. It had a story that went nowhere, characters that had no
motivation, and an overall feel that looked good, but ultimately had nothing underneath the surface.
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