Frida
3 out of 5 stars
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Hayek's long-cherished bio of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo finally makes it to the screen, and the film itself is a work of art, thanks to superior performances and the artistic imagery of director Taymor (Titus). Hayek also gets the role of her career as Kahlo. The film starts in the early 1920s just before Frida is horribly injured in a bus accident, causing life-long health problems but pushing her to express herself through painting. The story traces her family life, her involvement in the lively art scene in Mexico, New York and Paris, her two marriages to another artist Diego Rivera (Molina) and her affair with Leon Trotsky (Rush). Intriguingly, it presents her as a woman who never recognises the impact of her work on others, even though everyone around her is deeply moved by her paintings.

Taymor cleverly weaves in Kahlo's visual sense throughout the film. There's nothing subtle about this; at times it's a little annoying in that it keeps us at a distance from the characters, but it opens up Kahlo's work for us to feel her passion as an artist. Hayek plays the role beautifully--with energy and life, both brightly funny and seriously hot-blooded. And Molina is fantastic as Rivera, creating a full-bodied character we both like and distrust in equal measure. Meanwhile, a strong cast of big names play the intriguing people moving in and out of their life. Technically the film looks amazing, washed with colours in some scenes, drained to almost monochrome in others, with excellent costumes, makeup, cinematography and especially Elliot Goldenthal's music. Still, the whole thing is a bit too mannered to let us in personally. It's more observational than involving. But what an amazing story to watch.

cert 15 themes, language, nudity, violence 29.Jan.03

dir Julie Taymor
scr Clancy Sigal, Diane Lake, Gregory Nava, Anna Thomas
with Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Valeria Golino, Geoffrey Rush, Roger Rees, Mia Maestro, Patricia Reyes Spindola, Diego Luna, Ashley Judd, Antonio Banderas, Edward Norton, Saffron Burrows
release US 25.Oct.02; UK 28.Feb.03
Miramax
02/US 2h03

Diego and Frida. Two of Mexico's top 20th century artists get married ... twice (Molina and Hayek).

hayek molina golino
rush judd luna
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... prepare to be seduced Gawain McLachlan, >Filmnet, Melbourne: 2.5/5 "Salma Hayek plays Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in this very flat film about someone who led such an interesting life. Video material." (14.Mar.03)

J Cody, Tennessee: 5/5 "I absolutely love this film. I don't buy a lot of movies but this one I purchased and find myself watching it over and over again - even the special features disc. As a visual artist, ethnic male in America and human being I find great beauty, humanity and spiritial empowerment in this film. When I was a kid this is how I felt when I saw The Wizard of Oz but that's a fictional fantasy. Frida being based on real life gives these feelings a much greater impact in my life." (17.Feb.06)

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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