Robert Towne, writer and director of the classic romantic thriller "Tequila Sunrise" finally completes his pet project, directing the film adaptation of John Fante's novel. The story takes place in Los Angeles, but not the wealthy, glamorous city that we know. This is 1930s Los Angeles, hit just as hard by the depression as the rest of the country. Suffering from the same economic crisis, this version of L.A. is dirty and harsh. Often the final resting place for many who have given up on their dreams, the city is also full of possibilities for those who have not.
Arturo Bandini hasn't give up on his dream - to publish a meaningful novel - and he has come to Los Angeles to do it. He is also determined to marry a blue-eyed blonde despite his Italian immigrant ancestry. Camilla is a beautiful Mexican woman who is also eager for a new beginning; she hopes to find a white American to make her his bride and change her Mexican last name.
The two dreamers meet unexpectedly and begin a steamy romance that is complicated from the start. Although Arturo is undeniably drawn to Camilla, she doesn't fit into the mold that he had prepared in his mind. She is determined and explosive, and of course she is not white. Their relationship is precarious for that reason; during that time period, racism was rampant and typical. America's relationship with the budding Mexican community was strained at best, and Italian Americans had to fight against prejudices of their own. Despite the difficulties, Arturo and Camilla keep coming back to each other, each of them wondering how loving the other could possibly fit into their dreams.
"Ask the Dust" is already being praised for its amazing cinematography, featuring a dusty, cynical Los Angeles. The city is portrayed as one just beginning to realize it's potential greatness - cluttered with imported people, objects, and even plants. Hayek and Ferrell are also highly praised for their dramatic performances despite not always completely reflecting the original characters. Eileen Atkins and Donald Sutherland also star.