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Salma Hayek (uni-brow and all) gives a genuinely great performance as
`Frida,' the Mexican artist who is more famous, perhaps, as the wife of
Diego Rivera than as a painter in her own right - although Rivera himself
always insisted that it was Frida who had the greater talent.
Frida Kahlo was a woman who endured a life of crippling pain caused by a trolley accident in her youth, yet her innate energy, passion and love of life - as well as her enormous abilities as a painter - allowed her to overcome that daunting obstacle to achieve a measure of fame and recognition. What she was not quite so successful in overcoming was her strenuous love/hate relationship with Rivera, which came to occupy her time and her life almost as much as her painting. In many ways, `Frida' is a typical artist bio, highly reminiscent of other recent films in the genre such as `Pollock' and `Surviving Picasso,' both of which also dealt with the serial philandering of their male artist figures. `Frida,' however, since it is focused more intensely on the woman's perspective, offers a few new insights into that seemingly inevitable theme. Frida, in many ways, prides herself on her independent, fiery nature, yet when Rivera becomes a part of her life, she quickly succumbs to his seductive charms. She marries Rivera even though she knows he is constitutionally incapable of remaining faithful to her. Thus, she sets herself up for a life of misery with a man she is utterly incapable of living without. That the relationship is one of utter co-dependency is demonstrated by the fact that Rivera, even after their numerous breakups, keeps coming back to his one true love.
Based on the Hayden Herrera biography, the Clancy Sigal/Diane Lake/Gregory Nava/Anna Thomas screenplay doesn't paint Frida as some sort of passive victim of her own weaknesses nor as some sort of plaster saint martyr who was entirely guiltless in her own troubled life. We see, for instance, the hypocrisy inherent in her own romantic dalliances, principally her bisexual flings with other women and even the affair she conducts with none other than Trotsky himself during the period of his exile in Mexico (right before his assassination). We empathize with Frida because she functions as such a compelling figure in the context of the story, but we are never allowed to forget that she is a flawed human being, as capable of making a mess of her life as any of the men who generally occupy the lead position in these stories.
If for no other reason, `Frida' is worth seeing for the marvelous sense of history it provides, chronicling the turbulent period of the 1920's and 1930's when socialism was the `in' cause for the art world to rally around - at least until the arrival of Stalin when the pipe dream of a worker's state and a classless society fell victim to the murderous brutality of a regime more totalitarian in nature than the one it had replaced. Director Julie Taymor keeps the political issues of the era front and center, perfectly integrating them with the tumultuous relationship at the story's core. We witness, for instance, Rivera's struggle with Nelson Rockefeller when the latter commissions Rivera to paint a mural in one of his buildings. When Rockefeller, the personification of capitalism, balks at Rivera's glorification of Lenin in the painting, Rivera is forced to reexamine his own commitment to the cause he so vehemently espouses (the film makes an interesting companion piece to `The Cradle Will Rock' from a few years back). We also get to see some of the lip service paid by these artists to the socialist cause, as they live the good life among the elite pampered classes, often at the expense of the very workers whose rights they so loudly proclaim in their work.
As Frida, Hayek literally carries the film. Tender and vulnerable one moment, she can become fiery and self-confident the next. Hayak also captures much of the excruciating physical torment that Frida was forced to endure during her lifetime - and which often became the central subject of much of her art. Alfred Molina makes of Rivera a fascinatingly understated figure. His seeming world-weariness camouflages a tenderness and ability to love deeply, which, apparently, few in his life - apart from Frida - were ever able to see. Ashley Judd does a nice turn as one of Rivera's socialite devotees and Antonio Banderas makes his mark in his very brief appearance as David Siqueiros, a passionate socialist who accuses Rivera of kowtowing to the powers-that-be whom he claims to despise (Banderas is so good in the role that one regrets he isn't given more screen time). Geoffrey Rush, unfortunately, is not given enough time or good material to make much of an impression as Trotsky.
Taymor has had mixed results integrating Frida's works into the story. The director occasionally dabbles in surrealism by having Frida and Diego literally enter into the world of her paintings. Sometimes it works; sometimes it serves merely as a fancy distraction. Still, Taymor at least deserves credit for boldness in such scenes.
All in all, `Frida' provides a fascinating portrait of its heroine - and one of the best performances of the year to go along with it.
Usually, when you see a biopic about a famous artist and genius you
either get to see a tragic, suffering creature or an idealized God. And
often it's always the same: He/she was born, had a difficult childhood,
created some masterpieces, had some affairs (usually with
actors/actresses or/and musicians) and dies a sad and lonely death. But
what a refreshing difference "Frida" was! Frida Kahlo's life was more
suffering than joy, yet the movie does not pity her all the time but
shows Frida's lust for life, love, art and her husband Diegor Riviera.
It tells the story of a really unusual life: When Frida is a student, young, beautiful, full of live and in love with a gorgeous boy (Diego Luna from "Y tu mama tambien" and "Dirty Dancing Havanna Nights) she experiences a horrible accident when her bus crashes with a tram. Frida then becomes a cripple for the rest of her life, but through this she experiences herself in a new way and starts to paint, mostly self-portraits where she deals with her pain, her family, political situations and people she loves. Soon after the accident a miracle happens: Frida learns to walk again and the first thing she does is to visit the famous artist and painter Diego Rivera to ask his opinion about her paintings the beginning of an unusual and often complicated love story that should last a lifetime.
We get to learn a woman who experiences so many tragic things in life that it should be enough to commit suicide, yet she never gives up, grows stronger and one thing that certainly helps her through hard times is her wit, her dignity and her love for life and art. She takes what she wants and needs (which also includes love affairs with men and women) but has also a lot to give. Plus her works, so honest, brutal but also beautiful in their truth, reveal one of the greatest talents of our time.
A whole lot of this movie works of course through its female protagonist, whose role is not that easy and a real challenge sometimes. The wonderful and graceful Salma Hayek, who is immensely gifted, does really great work here and awakes Frida and her world to life again. Hayek perfectly holds the balance between triumphs and losses, joy and sorrow, madness and daily routine, life and death. She is just a pleasure to watch, she doesn't play Frida, she IS Frida. Another important character is of course Diego Rivera, the greatest love of Frida's life. Alfred Molina, a great British actor, is perfectly casted for this role and besides, has a remarkable resemblance to the real Diego. Outstanding performances also by the supporting cast: Valeria Golino, Ashley Judd (with a great imitation of the Mexican accent), Geoffrey Rush and Edward Norton.
Frida a feast for the senses full of life and exploding emotions and a tribute to a truly unique and remarkable woman, who was the greatest female artist of the last century!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Frida' is a rich and passionate account of two celebrated Mexican
artists, whose lives were bound up with major events of the 20th
century-the Mexican and Russian Revolutions... The film takes us at the
center of the art world in one of the most tumultuous alliance between
two painters, an alliance filled with joy and heartbreak, love and
Frida and Diego are two dynamic artists of extraordinary and diverse talents... While Diego's work is more public and monumental, Frida's paintings are grotesque and intimate on a much smaller scale...
The film chronicles Frida's audacious self-introduction to the great muralist Diego Rivera, and her physical ailments... There is pain in this woman's life, a pain she don't deserve to have, a pain no one deserves to have... There's a line in the film where Kahlo says, 'at the end of the day, we can all endure much more than we think we can.' and I think this one line resumes everything about her...
Salma Hayek proves herself that she's more than just another pretty face... Salma is full of vigor as the angry strong-willed female artist caught in a net of pain... It's pleasing to see Hayek in a production where she is totally confidant, sexy and lusty in an uncomplicated way... Salma captures the spirit of Frida and plays it with heart and style, longing for the healing touch... She dances a provocative tango with Ashley Judd, and goes to Paris to explore her bisexual side...
The chemistry between Salma and Molina is terrific... Her passion for art is overtaken by her passion for him... She expresses her emotions by teasing him, by playing practical jokes, by exciting the jealousy of his wonderful wife, Lupe Marin (Valeria Golino).
But Frida remains in Rivera's shadow... She calls herself "a charming amateur." She focuses on her expressive self portraits of her physical pain, anger, and disappointment... Yet while viewers are left with the impression that there is undoubtedly more to Frida's life than what appears on screen, what we get instead is a love story, a tale of Frida's romantic, and tempestuous union to the unfaithful husband she marries twice and never stopped to love...
London-born actor Alfred Molina is absolutely splendid as the lovable Rivera... He is a well-known womanizer who can never be faithful to any woman... Diego is a painter of conviction... A revolutionary painter who believes in Frida's anguished brush, and championed her work... He decides to create paintings which would speak directly to the common people...
In a motion picture that sweeps from the late 1920s into the 1950s, Julie Taymor proves to be a director of taste and sensitivity... She captures the mood of the moment with genuine flair and style... Her imagery is exciting, and we are convinced that we are seeing Mexico in the first half of the 1900s, with its native markets, textiles, music, and food... Julie Taymor infuses it with elements of Frida's artistic creativity, bringing much of her work to life... Her film was nominated for six Academy Awards...
Vague references to the political struggle between Trotsky and Stalin make their way into the script... The film ignores Siqueiros' central role in the unsuccessful attempt on Trotsky's life in 1940... But the motion picture details the mistake of Nelson Rockefeller commissioning Rivera a huge fresco for his public hall...
Visually stunning - if this film does not win for cinematography at the
Academy Awards, I will be shocked.
This film, based on the biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera, is a masterpiece. I read the book several years ago & have been a Frida fan ever since.
I heard an interview w/Hayden on NPR not too long ago talking about her book & the movie adaptation. She did years & years of research on Frida and is probably as close to an 'expert' on her life as we could come across in the year 2003. She praised Julie Taymor for this film and was quite happy with her adaptation.
Reading the reviews on this page, i find it hard to believe that there are critics of this movie. Everything from the music (beautiful!) to the cinematography to the acting . . . greatness!! Selma really put her heart & soul into this role and she has now made her way onto my list of 'favorite actresses'.
It would be hard to put anyone's life onto the big screen & get every single detail right on - esp. someone who lived 50+ years ago. I think Julie Taymor has done an amazing job of representing the life of Frida.
Ahm.. I just watched this, it was from 2002 but I had no interest what
so ever in the movie or the story when it came out, I knew about it I
read in papers but never did actually saw it. Well, tonight was the
night. And know this.. I will see it again.. and again until I
understand that woman.. Frida Kahlo.
This is the kind of story that goes straight to your heart, straight to your brain and you sit there wondering " How could this really be true.. how could this really happen to a person?" I think that Frida was one brave woman, hell of an artist.. and I wish for myself to be like her if something so horrible happens to me. She was strong, she was a prey to conflicting emotions but she survived. The movie deserves a 10!
My neck hurts from sitting in that uncomfortable chair we have in the dining room but I couldn't feel any pain while watching "Frida". Why?! Simply, because I thought.. "wow.. how was that woman capable of staying alive for so long? How did she bear all that pain?"
This is a "have to see or regret for life".
"Frida" is a beautifully done biopic about Mexican artist and icon Frida Kahlo. Salma Hayek plays this role very well. She exhibits all the passion that goes into being an artist, especially when playing off Alfred Molina, who plays Diego Rivera, husband of Frida Kahlo, and a famous Mexican artist in his own right. What really impressed me was the artistic references in the movie. I loved seeing the paintings coming to life! I also liked the surreal animated sequences, particularly the hospital nightmare, populated with Day of the Dead-style skeletons. Few movies have ever made me regard them as a work of art. "Frida" is definitely one of them!
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.
This is a very well-realized film, and the most inspired thing about it
is the casting of Salma Hayek in the title role.
After displaying amazing star quality in Desperado, Hayek has been sadly under-used by the film world - until this magnificent and passionate performance, which will surely get her an Oscar nomination if there's any hope for Hollywood at all. Proving herself capable of enormous range and blazingly intense depth, Hayek's Frida is a genuine flesh-and-blood individual who refuses to live life on the sidelines (as women were 'supposed' to do in those days). She was an artist in every sense of the word - taking and owning all that life gave her and transforming it into unflinching portraits of her soul. Supremely inspiring and deeply felt.
"Frida" is saved from mediocrity by the wonderful performances of Selma Hayek and Alfred Molina, and by its imaginative cinematography. Unfortunately, the underlying story of the love affair between the title character, Frida Kahlo, and her husband, Diego Rivera, tells an unpleasant tale of irresponsibility and betrayal. Nevertheless, Kahlo's art is cleverly used to tell her story and Hayek's and Molina's terrific performances manage to invest Kahlo and Rivera with an attractiveness I suspect they lacked in real life. This is a good although not a great film; recommended, 7 out of 10.
The movie deals with the biography of Frida Kalho (well performed by
Salma Hayek , though Laura San Giacomo was originally set to play her
but was dropped when fans objected to a non-Mexican playing the role)
who after a terrible accident with a trolley causes herself a crippling
injury , then she gets away from her parents (Roger Rees and Patricia
Spinola) to live on the paintings . She falls in love with famed
muralist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina , he gained 50 lbs , 23 kg , for
this character) who bears a separated marriage (to Valeria Golino) .
Later on , Frida is wedded to Diego and the troubles come out .
The yarn relies heavily upon their tempestuous marriage , because the different artistic temperaments burst , creating a stormy relation . The picture is correctly based on historic deeds and even Edward Norton did an uncredited rewrite of the script . Thus , it appears Leon Trosky - who has romance to Frida- , but he's murdered with a hatchet by Ramon Mercader and then is framed Diego Rivera , though later being absolved . Besides , there are several famous people : Siqueiros (Antonio Banderas) , Nelson Rockefeller (Edward Norton) , Leon Trosky (Geoffrey Rush) and others very secondaries such as Andre Breton or Josephine Baker . Frida is specially known by her mustachioed and one-brow paintings and Rivera by his impressive murals and one of them was ordered to break by Nelson Rockefeller but reflected to famous communists on the ¨Rockefeller Center¨ . The film was perfectly directed by Julie Taymor and includes magnificent cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto as when imaginatively brings to life the scenes on the Kalho's paintings , where the color is glimmer and spellbound . The motion picture attained success and achieved enough box office , obtaining two Oscars for the awesome Musical Score (Elliot Goldenthal) and Make-up . Rating : Above average . Well Worth watching.
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