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Viva la Revolucion!
on 20 July 2009
Firstly, this movie, like most `historical' or `biographical' movies, puts entertainment first and fact second; it is full of misrepresentations and re-imaginings and can be best enjoyed if you do not approach it expecting a 107 minute history lesson. What it is is a fictionalised, romanticised tale of Salvador Dali and Federico Lorca's turbulent relationship throughout the 1920s, and this is something which it more than adequately portrays.
Having personally never seen any of these actors in anything before I did not know what to expect, but the acting is great, Javier Beltran and Robert Pattinson in particular are very committed to their characters. Pattinson ably parades a conflicted Dali who hides his fear and vulnerability behind a mask of eccentricity which he only lets slip around Beltran's passionate and sensitive Lorca. Javier is incredible in his role and consequently it is impossible not to be drawn to his depiction of the poet and his own confliction in a world where he is revered for his creativity but forced to hide his sexuality.
With its focus firmly on the unravelling relationship between Dali and Lorca, the movie does unfortunately limit the purpose of Luis Bunuel, and Mathew McNulty who is excellent in the role, to no more than a background character; a catalyst for some inopportune tension. It does somewhat of an injustice to his legacy as a genius filmmaker by only really portraying his brutal, homophobic side.
Though the actors are very believable in their roles, I do generally find it a slight irritation when English is portrayed as the general language of non-English speaking countries; but this is a fairly minor annoyance. I found it questionable however that when Lorca does read his poetry aloud in his native language, a spoken English translation is imposed over the top, obscuring the beauty of Javier's Spanish tongue which the use of subtitles could have avoided.
Also, the ending, which follows an 8 year time jump, in some ways seems a little tacked on. It does however, prove to be a necessary finish to the story, wrapping up Lorca's journey, which seems to be the ultimate focus of the movie, in a fantastically unsatisfying climax, while revisiting Dali sporting a wonderfully fake moustache, in the surreal and superficial world he has since created for himself.
The significant context of political tensions and civil war is amply omnipresent throughout what is quite an emotional and moving story of a desire which can never fully be realised. The musical accompaniment is particularly striking and visually the film is quite stunning; dramatically lit sets, cool 1920s costumes, pretty scenery and pretty boys. It is quirky, funny, beautiful, heart breaking and occasionally a little disturbing. It has its faults but I would suggest these are significantly outweighed by the positives.