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  • Frida
    • Frida
    • Runtime:123 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-23 12:01:20
    • Director: Julie Taymor
    • Genres: Biography, Drama, Romance
    • Studio:


I generally find biopics fairly boring, and "Frida" is no exception.
Their makers always seem to think that an examination of the person
will illuminate the art they produced, and they almost never do. Maybe
because art comes from such a deep, personal place in each individual
that a filmmaker can't get at the source.

Salma Hayek is fine as Frida Kahlo, but it takes more than an artfully
applied mono-brow to add up to a compelling performance. Alfred Molina
does fine in the acting department, but honestly, Molina is so
physically repellent in this movie that I found it difficult to
tolerate him.

Stage director Julie Taymor showed an uncharacteristic amount of
restraint in bringing this story to the screen.

Grade: B-


Now I know that Frida Kahlo had an accident, was involved with Diego
Rivera and Trotski, and had strange eyebrows. I also know that Selma
Hayak is a babe, and I know a lot about her breasts. Among the things I
don't know: what Kahlo's relation to women was; how she learned to
paint; what painters she admired; what her relation to the 'revolution'
was; what the relation was between suffering and art. I am left to
imagine how this absolutely perfect body on which the camera dotes so
obsessively could possibly contain the pain it is supposed to harbor
(every forty minutes or so the director reminds us of this). But then,
I get a really cool lesbian-dancing scene, which I suppose was more
important than any of this trivial stuff. And did I mention the boobs?


This is above all the story of the painful love that for 26 long years
united the great Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954) to the no
less great painter Diego Rivera, a period full of alternate moments of
great tenderness and fierce quarrels and punctuated by periods of
separation and inclusive a divorce followed by a second marriage
because their love was so strong that they couldn't live without each
other despite the constant Rivera's infidelities since he was a
compulsive philanderer about which he nevertheless and very loyally
warned Frida in the moment they decided to get married. The movie is
very true in biographical general terms except maybe for small details
here and there. Salma Hayek has a great performance as Frida showing us
the strong character of that courageous woman who through most of her
life endured great physical suffering since she was victim of a serious
accident involving a tramway where she travel-led when she was still a
student which left her with serious sequels for the rest of her life.
She also had no less than 3 miscarriages. All these physical and moral
sufferings never depressed her and she went on painting and transposing
to his paintings in a symbolic way those sufferings of hers. When she
was already very sick and her doctor had forbidden her to leave her bed
she appeared at the inauguration of the first exhibition of her works
lying down in bed. All this is shown in the movie with great fidelity,
efficiency and sentimental strength. The last part of the movie is
particularly poignant though in a gentle way using sometimes the
symbolism of mixing softly images of the real Frida with self-portraits
on her paintings. A very well made movie from both aspects of form and


Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) painted self-portraits and
surreal acts of God and madness like a woman possessed by a
half-demon/half-angel; a book of her paintings is almost difficult to
look through, as her singular sense of color (such as bloody
crimson-reds and inky, staring blacks) and unflinching composition are
violent, penetrating, twisted, and unnerving. Director Julie Taymor and
actress-producer Salma Hayek's movie doesn't really get into the
explosiveness of Kahlo's artistry, her rage, her desire to provoke–and
no one on the screen comments on it, either. If it weren't for glimpses
of Kahlo's artistic style, one might walk away from this film assuming
she painted faces and flowers. Taymor is much more interested in the
tumultuous love relationship between Kahlo and lusty, brazen,
womanizing Communist painter Diego Rivera. Their shared passion for art
may have gotten them into bed, yet her fiery need for pushing
boundaries and his no-holds-barred take on revolutionary politics kept
them together. This incredible partnership is expressed vividly, with
wonderful performances by Hayek and Alfred Molina. Yet, the desire here
should be to explore Frida's talents…what drove her to create such
gut-wrenching works on the canvas? Did anyone recoil upon seeing them,
or possibly object to the bloodletting she seemed to take such a morbid
interest in? It's also disconcerting right from the start to hear
everyone in the picture talking heavily-accented English in the midst
of Mexico City, 1922. The presentation is indeed beautiful–maybe too
beautiful–and the stormy marriage of the two artists is gripping;
however, the real Frida Kahlo isn't out front–she's hovering on the
edges of the film, peeking out at us once in awhile like a mad sprite.
**1/2 from ****

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