In 1929 French Indochina, a French teenage girl embarks on a reckless and forbidden romance with a wealthy, older Chinese man, each knowing that knowledge of their affair will bring drastic consequences to each other.
Tony Leung Ka Fai,
"Frida" chronicles the life Frida Kahlo shared unflinchingly and openly with Diego Rivera, as the young couple took the art world by storm. From her complex and enduring relationship with her mentor and husband to her illicit and controversial affair with Leon Trotsky, to her provocative and romantic entanglements with women, Frida Kahlo lived a bold and uncompromising life as a political, artistic, and sexual revolutionary. Written by
This is an interesting movie, but less interesting perhaps than the reactions it draws.
First, the nuts and bolts review. Selma Hyack does a great job portraying the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who marries, puts up with, and in some ways, maybe even excells famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. It's a tough role and Hyack seems to let it all hang out in many ways.
Alfred Molina is good, but not great as Rivera, and the rest of the supporting cast also performs well, including a cameo appearance by Ashley Judd as Italian born-photographer and leftwing activist Tina Modotti.
The direction is crisp and effective throughout, and the colors and ambiance of the film are simply great. This is a movie about artists and it fullfills the first requirement of art. It is visually stunning to look at.
What intrigues me is the heated debate this generates among those who know and admire Frida. It may well be impossible for anyone to make a bio picture that satisfies purists, those who are quite familiar with the subject matter. But purists have to realize that movies are too expensive and difficult to make (this one took decades)for the moviemakers to concentrate on such a small audience. They have to look at the big picture and make a film that is understandable to mass audiences, or else count on losing millions of dollars.
For myself, I knew next to nothing about Frida Kahlo, only that I had seen some of her paintings and that she was Rivera's wife. Since I like Rivera's work, I went to see the film. But I knew more about Tina Modotti when I walked into the theater than I did about Frida.
Whether this was an accurate portrayal of her character and life, I haven't a clue. But I do feel I came away knowing a lot more about her than I used to.
My single gripe is that the film seemed to make Frida take a back seat to her husband when it came to art. She is portrayed as someone who is very unsure about the value of her own work. But I can't get too mad about that, because Frida may have been that way in real life for all I know.
I am a leftist politically, but I think we often get much too caught up in politics and rhetoric and often assign political meanings to things when they don't apply. It is very, very complicated to make a biography and no 2 hour film is going to capture every facet of a complex person's personality, mucy less cover every aspect of their lives.
Overall,I'd say "Frida" accomplished its limited mission. It told me something about an artist I knew little about. I will now look for more of her work. I provided me with some fine acting, direction, etc. And perhaps best of all, allowed me to spend two hours in Mexican culture in some way, shape or form. I enjoyed the experience.
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