Little Ashes

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Little Ashes Movie Poster Image
Sensual, mature tale of young artists in 1920s Spain.
  • R
  • 2009
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Central characters struggle for artistic, social, and sexual freedom in a rigid society. In the case of Federico Garcia Lorca, ideals and human values are sacred, and for this he pays the ultimate price. Homosexuals are treated with disgust and violence in some instances; with compassion and understanding in others. Friendship and loyalty are recognized as qualities to be treasured.


During a tense sequence, a firing squad shoots three men. One scene shows a young homosexual man being severely beaten. Newsreel war footage includes images of dead bodies on the ground. The most disturbing image is a close-up depicting the slicing of a human eye. There's a bare knuckle fight with no serious injuries.


Scenes include male frontal nudity, many images of bare breasts and buttocks, passionate heterosexual and homosexual lovemaking, intercourse, masturbation, and a short simulated sex scene between puppets.


Includes several forms of "f--k," as well as "piss," "s--t," "bastard," and "faggot."

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Cigarette smoking is seen continuously, which is accurate for the 1920s setting. Many scenes with young people drinking alcohol, including some excessive drinking and drunkenness.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that even though this drama stars Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson, it's a mature film for mature audiences. It deals with sexual exploration and suppressed homosexual behavior in a restrictive society, and scenes depict intercourse, homosexual awakening, full nudity, bare breasts, and masturbation. There's also strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t"), references to bodily functions, and sexual slurs directed at homosexuals. Several violent scenes show death by firing squad, the beating of a gay man, authentic wartime footage with dead bodies, and a graphic, close-up shot of an eye being sliced.

User Reviews

Parent of a 14 year old Written byjacob0929 June 15, 2009
Teen, 13 years old Written bytimmphy do June 7, 2010
to inappropriate!!!!!!!!

What's the story?

In 1922, a trio of young artistic geniuses -- painter Salvador Dali, poet/playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, and filmmaker Luis Bunuel -- converges at a Spanish university. It's a time of pre-Civil War political, social, and sexual upheaval. Revolutionary poet Lorca (Javier Beltran) and eccentric painter Dali (Twilight's Robert Pattinson) are drawn together by their extraordinary talent, sensitivity, and growing mutual physical attraction. They're true soul mates, but they live in a society in which homosexuality isn't acceptable. Amid the turbulent social and policial climate, their struggles with each other and with their own desires lead them to make choices that profoundly affect their fate.

Is it any good?

The filmmakers focus on character and mood to tell this fascinating story, with the young stars ably tackling difficult roles. Dali was a flamboyant narcissist, an over-the-top performance artist as well as painter. Pattinson is courageous in his commitment to bringing balance to his portrayal. Beltran, in his first film role, finds Lorca's tender fragility -- as well as his intellectual brilliance and strength. The only questions may be how much of the romance between Dali and Lorca is fact and how much can be attributed to the source: Dali's conflicted memories as an old man.

Though it's set in the early 20th century, the complex issues and emotional conflicts in LITTLE ASHES -- the individual pitted against a totalitarian state, the fight for acceptance of sexual preference, and the uncompromising artist versus the opportunist -- are as relevant today as they were then. And although it's clear that budget was a factor here -- old footage and newsreel clips make do for battle scenes and big production demands -- some of the love scenes are shot with heartbreaking beauty and texture.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. Is it making specific statements about art and sexuality? What techniques do the filmmakers use to emphasize the sensuality of the story? How does Robert Pattinson's role in this movie compare to his better-known role in Twilight? Families can also discuss how the politics of 1920s Spain affected Dali and Lorca's lives. Why was the government so afraid of Lorca? What factors made Dali reject him? Can you think of incidents in today's world in which artists are willing to speak out?

Movie details

For kids who love Biopics

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