Frida
Starring:
Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush, Antonio Banderas, Edward Norton
Directed By:
Julie Taymor
Grade
A

Salma Hayek's rendition of Frida, the odd Mexican iconic artist, in this bio film by the same name, is a true work of passion. As a young woman, she is badly injured in a bus wreck, leaving her crippled and weak. Strong-willed and driven as she is, she recovers and goes to the politically charged Diego Rivera to ask him if she is talented enough to be able to sell her art to help her family. From that point, she develops a relationship with the philandering artist, one so volatile that it deeply influences her art. While she herself never really sees the greatness in her work, Diego and her family see what a wonderful artist she is, even through her physical and emotional pain.

The story behind Frida runs along several different tangents that seem to weave together well. First and foremost is the tumultuous relationship between herself and Diego Rivera (Molina), which is only made more complex by his constant sleeping around with anything that would notice him, including her sister. Frida's own bisexuality throws a twist into the fiery relationship. Along with this is a heavy dose of social-political commentary as Rivera's heavy communist beliefs eventually both entangle them into controversy and involve them in the political asylum of the Russian Marxist Leon Trotsky (Rush).

Hayek is sharp as the fiery and headstrong Frida. Her portrayal gives depth to an artist many may not have taken the time to examine beforehand. In fact, Hayek's portrayal really goes to lengths to give weight to the artists' style and the subject matter of her art. Alfred Molina is a joy to watch as the womanizing Rivera. He's egotistical, brash and all-around loud and rude, but always manages to find a moment to share a tender emotion with Frida once the emotional fires have subsided. Many of the bit parts are performed well by an all-star cast, including Valeria Golino, Ashley Judd, Antonio Banderas, and Edward Norton.

One of the finest aspects of the film is the artistic flair in which it is filmed and the number of dreamlike sequences that are interspersed throughout the film, much like escapist vignettes from the pain-filled reality that Frida lived in. Also, there are a number of scenes in which Hayek is shot in poses that mimic the artists paintings, as if she has become the paintings before us. Throw in some wonderfully colorful sets and costumes and a cinematic eye that's sharp and artistic in its own right and Frida is a wonderful film just to watch.

Along with the fine visuals is a soundtrack that is enigmatic in both culture and style and delivers such a strong series of pieces that the culture of the story can not help but be fleshed out in full detail.

If there's anything to be said against Frida, it's that the film is as much a bio of Diego Rivera as it is about Frida. Also, there are periods of her life, especially later on, that seem to be unfortunately glossed over. I would have loved to see more about her art, but with the pace of the story, any time spent going into real depth with her art might have just slowed things down.

Frida is a finely filmed and acted bio pic that fans of art should spend the time to see. If you were ever interested in the artist or just didn't seem to understand where she found influence, this film does manage to do the artist justice while capturing the essence of the culture and time period well.

- - Kinderfeld

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