Mexican beauty Camilla hopes to rise above her station by marrying a wealthy American. That is complicated by meeting Arturo Bandini, a first-generation Italian hoping to land a writing career and a blue-eyed blonde on his arm.
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L.A. in the early 1930's: racism, poverty, and disease color the Bunker Hill neighborhood where Arturo Bandini, a lover of men and beasts alike, has arrived from Colorado to write the great Los Angeles novel. After six months and down to his last nickel, he orders a cup of coffee, served by Camilla Lopez, beautiful, self-possessed, and Mexican. Arturo gets advice, encouragement, and an occasional check from H.L. Mencken, so he keeps writing and he keeps seeing Camilla. But, he's mean to her for no apparent reason, so the relationship sputters. A housekeeper from back East suggests a way out of his jealously and fears. "Camilla Bandini": is it in the cards? Written by
This film is an intriguing modern-day film noir that catches your interest and holds it from beginning to the end. It takes place in Depression era Los Angeles - the perfect place for lost souls. Arturo and Camilla - beautifully played by Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek - are young and intelligent but victims of clearly outspoken prejudice against their family heritages; his being Italian and hers being Mexican. One of the incredible ironies of the open prejudice of the times is that Arturo and Camilla, even though very much attracted to each other, act in prejudicial ways against each other. It becomes clear early on that these expressions of dislike hide the passion simmering beneath the surface. That passion forms the crux of the story.
In the classic noir style, Arturo is a budding writer who has traveled to California to seek his fortune and there are many scenes showing him beating away at his typewriter in an effort to forge a great American tale. Farrell does an excellent job at showing both the innocent and not-so-innocent, shy and bravado sides of Arturo's personality.
The ever so beautiful Hayek is perfect as the Mexican girl who wants to become "respectable" by marrying an Anglo. Unfortunately, she falls for Arturo - an Italian and definitely not "respectable" in the United States of that time.
Ask the Dust is more than just a delicious love story of two beautiful, passionate people. It is also a well-produced, atmospheric look at an era in which the world was all too quick to condemn because of genetic heritage.
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