DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Miss Dali

Relationship between Spanish Surrealist painter and his sister Anna Maria is the topic of new drama; the performances are very compelling, but the narrative has a few flaws - from the Cambridge Film Festival

This is a film to be watched if you want a historical account of the painter’s life in the style of a cozy fireside chat. Much of this history is narrated by his sister Anna Maria Dali (Sian Philliips) to her old friend Maggie (Claire Bloom) over the course of one day. Maggie asks her old friend leading questions and Anna-Maria dutifully supplies us with the answers. Both Bloom and Phillips are exceptional actresses and give colour to a rather stern dialogue.

The events of Dali’s life are recounted to us as a memory, often in black-and-white flashbacks. He is played by Joan Carmona, who does a good job at portraying the painter’s eccentricities of manner. The younger Anna Maria is played with charm by Eulalia Ballart. As a young woman, Anna Maria often modelled for her famous brother. She was often required to pose for the painter looking delightful in front of an open window.

In the flashback scenes Dali’s family are often found (like the older women who narrate the story) to be reading letters from Dali about various events of his life, or leafing through a box of photographs and talking about past anecdotes. Older Anna-Maria tells us that Dali had fierce arguments with surrealists and communists while living in New York. Yet we never see these arguments.

Two thirds of the way through the film we are introduced to another two talking heads Captain Moore (Allan Corduner) and Joanne (Minnie Marx) and then later still by three other women speaking to older Anna-Maria. The presence of these narrators is never explained.

The cinematography (signed by Tito Arcas and Andalu Vila-San-Juan) is rather impressive. The Spanish village of Cadaques – one of Dali’s favourite retreats – is shown in all its splendid beauty. I’m just not entirely sure why the flashbacks suddenly turn to a colour palette partway through the film.

Overall, the film is a little too long at 168 minutes. The actors work very hard to bring the complex dialogue to life, but the narrative is stretched a little too thinly over such an extensive duration.

Miss Dali shows at the 38th Cambridge Film Festival, which takes place between October 25th and November 1st.

By Fiona Whitelaw - 22-10-2018

Fiona’s driving force as a writer is to tell stories that have not been heard with the voices of those not usually listened to. Her work for screen and stage spans a variety of genres. Her latest f...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

Our top 10 dirty picks from the Cambridge Film Festival


DMovies' team - 18-10-2018

As the third longest-running film festival in the UK approaches, we have cherry-picked the 10 most innovative, thought-provoking and downright filthy gems from the event that takes place between November 25th and December 1st! [Read More...]

The Key to Dalí  (La Llave Dalí)

David Fernández

Richard Greenhill - 28-02-2018

Just how much is this Dali worth? Spanish doc examining how a real Dali was sold for just £132 is a very timely critique of truth, expertise and elitism - on Vod March 5th as part of the Walk This Way Collection [Read More...]

Summer 1993 (Estiu 1993)

Carla Simón

Richard Greenhill - 11-07-2018

Death through the eyes of a child: Splendid autobiographical drama investigates grief and confusion of six-year-old Spanish girl who lost her mother to Aids - on Mubi on Thursday, January 5th [Read More...]