Ask the Dust Reviews

Top Critic
Edward Lawrenson
Time Out
June 24, 2006
Although Chinatown writer Towne lovingly depicts the Depression-era LA setting (actually shot in South Africa), the film misfires.
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
May 12, 2006
Something is missing, though. The themes are all there, but the movie doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier and rev you up.
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
March 30, 2006
Farrell and costar Salma Hayek have rarely been so affecting, or so effective, as self-hating ethnics who find love.
| Original Score: 3/4
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 25, 2006
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
March 24, 2006
Who would have guessed that Robert Towne, the writer of Chinatown, could make a movie as awful as Ask the Dust? It has it all -- one-dimensional characters, one-dimensional set and idiotically arch dialogue.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/5
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
March 23, 2006
Ask the Dust is one of the most eagerly awaited cinematic projects of 2006, which may be why it lands with such a curious thud.
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Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
March 18, 2006
Whether or not you're familiar with John Fante, if you like novels, you'll like Ask the Dust.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
March 18, 2006
... not for all tastes but far from flavorless.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
March 18, 2006
[A] sexy, sensual, romantic, nostalgic adaptation of the novel ...
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
March 18, 2006
... after an hour or so, Ask the Dust seems to have said everything, and the air starts to seep out of its hermetic atmosphere.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
March 18, 2006
Ask the Dust requires an audience with a special love for film noir, with a feeling for the loneliness and misery of the writer, and with an understanding that any woman he meets will be beautiful.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
March 17, 2006
The fact is, there's something sadly lifeless about Ask the Dust.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
March 17, 2006
As a film, Ask the Dust is uneven; as a labor of love, it's a beauty.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
March 17, 2006
Farrell isn't living up to his hype. He's inheriting the mantle from Andy Garcia as the world's oldest promising newcomer.
Full Review | Original Score: 0.5/4
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Peter Debruge
Miami Herald
March 17, 2006
Fante would never approve, governed as he was by a crushing fear of phoniness.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
March 17, 2006
It is to the credit of Towne and his cast ... that Ask the Dust is able to convey Fante's passion without making it seem affected.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
March 17, 2006
What gives Ask the Dust its quiet vitality -- beyond Farrell's muscular yet delicate portrayal -- is the fear of failing to grasp the brass ring that appears through much of the movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Richard Nilsen
Arizona Republic
March 16, 2006
What's surprising about the new film's vapid emptiness is that Towne also wrote the screenplay. And the writing is the film's central problem.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
March 16, 2006
It isn't until the very end that somebody finally does ask the dust a question, and there's so much talking in this movie that it's a miracle the dust doesn't reply.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
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Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 16, 2006
Towne and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel beautifully capture Fante's city of the dispossessed, where the seasons never change.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
March 16, 2006
Their (Colin Farrell & Salma Hayek's) tempestuous relationship teaches the young writer life-changing lessons about love and loss.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
March 16, 2006
It's a strange, off-beat story.
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Lisa Rose
Newark Star-Ledger
March 10, 2006
The hard-boiled prose is translated into a schmaltzy movie with too much sap and not enough grit.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
March 10, 2006
Watching it is like being in a restaurant where the waiter brings out a luscious platter of food, then keeps walking right past you. All night long.
| Original Score: 2/4
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Jami Bernard
New York Daily News
March 10, 2006
Atmospheric but awkward drama.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
March 10, 2006
The film is not only an evocation of a bygone era but an emanation of it as well.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
March 10, 2006
Towne has not given us the great American love story, but he has presented us with a captivating view of 1933 Los Angeles and a tale of romance that involves us in the plight of the characters.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
March 9, 2006
While the movie evokes the period well, thanks mostly to the stellar cinematography of Caleb Deschanel, it is a flawed and leaden adaptation of John Fante's seminal novel.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
March 9, 2006
Towne ... has turned Fante's glorious howl into a requiem for a city and those who escape its gilded clutches.
| Original Score: 4/5
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Kevin Crust
Los Angeles Times
March 9, 2006
A film of great beauty with unfulfilled promise -- a disappointment, but with much to recommend and be glad about.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Gene Seymour
Newsday
March 9, 2006
Farrell and Hayek seem too luminous for their downbeat surroundings. But they persuasively work through their characters' knotty emotional threads.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
March 9, 2006
If the end result isn't quite a great movie, it's indisputably a reverential one,
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
March 9, 2006
The film, which is literary to a fault, includes an earthquake, but if the earth moves at all, thank Hayek, who gives the tale a smoldering life that finally lifts it from the page.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
March 8, 2006
Despite fine performances and occasional moments of fascinating visual beauty, Ask the Dust is long, lazy, plotless, formless, overwrought, hysterical, unconvincing and very, very boring.
Top Critic
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
March 8, 2006
Fueled by shame and prejudice, the doomed relationship of these two proud self-haters is more drunken knife fight than transcendent love affair.
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
March 8, 2006
It's lifeless kitsch.
Full Review | Original Score: D
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
March 8, 2006
Towne draws out the era's rampant poverty and ethnic divisions through a story that plays to his strengths as a writer and a romantic
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Todd McCarthy
Variety
February 9, 2006
Hayek is in full blossom as Camilla.
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Sheri Linden
Hollywood Reporter
February 3, 2006
Towne ... inexplicably softens the story's noir edge, lapsing into melodrama and hammering at his themes instead of delving deeper into his characters.