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gripping performance by Hayek
Buddy-517 December 2002
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.
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Splendid movie about two excellent Mexican painters and their troublesome relationship
ma-cortes5 May 2005
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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smoothhoney12654 April 2005
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!
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Julie Taymor, a director of taste and sensibility...
Nazi_Fighter_David18 August 2003
Warning: 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 betrayal...

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...
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Life as art and vise versa
tprofumo12 December 2002
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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Salma Hayek RULES
Rogue-329 November 2002
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.
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An inspiring story
martinaskrobanska8 February 2005
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".
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courtney-eveleigh27 January 2003
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.
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¡Viva Frida!
EmperorNortonII26 November 2002
"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!
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art, communism and sex
damienmuldoon12 April 2007
I watched this film for the first time, last night,and, it is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. There are shades of "Surviving Picasso" about it. Yet, this movie transcends the Picasso film on a number of levels. Where "Surviving Picasso" is all about Anthony Hopkins masterful performance, "Frida" has a chemistry between its leading actors that you just don't see enough of in modern cinema. Yes, Salma Hayek inhabits the character of Frida and makes it entirely her own. But Alfred Molina's portrayal of her overweight, philandering husband really brings this movie to life. History is important to this movie also. Although removed from the turbulent events dominating European politics in the 1930s, Mexico embraces the ideology that will soon tear Europe apart and reflects that ideology in its art. Diego Rivera, as portrayed by Molina, is certainly a greater lover of women and painting than he is of political ideology, but the fact that he plays host to the exiled Trotsky shows that he is willing to put himself in harms way for the sake of his political principles. Trotsky is played charmingly by Geoffery Rush and his introduction to the story sends Diego and Frida's marriage to another level. This movie never fails to surprise you and if you have not seen it yet, you should.
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A near miss
gws-215 January 2004
"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.
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'Her work is acid and tender, hard as steel and fine as a butterfly's wing ...'
PoppyTransfusion24 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
... lovable as a smile, cruel as the bitterness of life ...'

So Diego Rivera describes Frida Kahlo's paintings in one of the final scenes in which an exhibition of her work is shown in Mexico for the first time. As a testament to Kahlo's art this film is magnificent and its director, Julie Taymor, is herself a cinematic artist, so keen is her eye for detail and colour.

The film spans the life of Mexican artist Frida from age 18 in 1925, just before the near fatal bus accident that almost killed her and left her badly injured for the remainder of her life, until her death in 1954 aged 49. It portrays the complicated relationship between her and Rivera, at the time Mexico's most famous artist and communist, and presents a picture of a fascinatingly rich life that included love affairs with Leon Trotsky and Josephine Baker.

Salma Hayek plays Frida and is perfectly cast as are many of the other actors, who physically resemble the people they play. One of the criticisms levelled at the film is that it is not in Spanish. This is a legitimate criticism as many of the cast, especially the bit players, are Mexican. It is deeply ironic that Frida who so identified with indigenous Mexico has her story told in English by an international cast. Nonetheless the film is well-made with authentic set design and captures the spirit of Frida's time.

Taymor illustrates Kahlo's creative life, as much as her colourful existence, often using Frida's own paintings to create scenes. For example, when Diego and Frida wed for the first time (they later divorce only to re-marry) Frida's wedding portrait entitled 'Frida and Diego Rivera' (1931) represents the exchange of vows. First we see a still of the painting, then the painting in animation before this gives way to the actors in scene. Moments like this pepper the film; a clever device that constantly reminds us of Frida the artist.

The film evokes the painful existence of Frida's physical life, again using her paintings to heighten the audience's sense of her injured body. There are many moving moments such as the miscarriage Frida suffered and the baby in bits, the steel girdle that encased her torso to support her spine in later life and her twilight years when she was bedridden. Her life was truly a triumph over adversity.

Frida's paintings are described in the film as "agonised poetry on canvas"; this poignant line aptly sums up the 'agonised poem' that Taymor paints of Kahlo's brief life.
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Unsugarcoated, mostly accurate biopic of the tortured woman artist.
MovieAlien15 June 2003
`Frida' documents the life of Frida Kahlo, from the age of 18 to the time of her death caused from a multitude of illnesses and injury she faced during her life.

Although Kahlo may be more attributable to her surreal paintings and dramatic marriage to more popular painter Diego Rivera, the movie focuses on the sex lives and deeply held socialist beliefs of the couple. In the film Rivera loses a sale to John Rockefeller (Edward Norton) with a depiction of Lenin in a mural. The couple even gave refuge to Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush) after having been exiled from Russia/Europe. One would like to get a better insight on Kahlo's childhood, as well as her artwork more than anything else, but truly fine cinematography/set design and a festive score make up for that insufficiency.
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Cliché-ridden source of two hours mild pleasure
dane-7017 December 2009
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?
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Salmas Khalo trademark for Disney
a_mon_lem7 March 2011
Salma Khalo's movie grabs many references from the other movie about, Frida: Naturaleza Viva (1984, not 1986), but not the important thing about her shows in the movie, in fact, deliberately (i don't know who had this brilliant idea) twist all the controversial faces of Frida and the contribution to Socialist movement, the support to Sandinist Armed uprising in Nicaragua , instead Salmas wants count us a tale with aspartame; to American market a friendly face of the real anti-capitalist Frida Khalo.

just nothing more to say about this film, it worths watch it only for the BSO, edition, scenarios, the Frida Khalos masterworks of course, (but not for biographical references, please, take a book and read it) and cinematography, but the content, is like a big pan cake filled with...air
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Disappointing, corny, uninformative, confused and cliché-ridden,
Alex-Tsander9 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Having studied the history of art academically for five years at college and university, I was aware of Kahlo only vaguely, as a shadowy player on the fringes of the Surrealist movement. I was familiar with a few of her self-portraits and knew about the appalling accident that had such an impact on her life. My first criticism of this movie is that it adds very little to this outline.

Very old fashioned in style making repeated use of corny montage sequences to depict happy periods of the artists life. Many of the scenes, such as the argument between Diego Rivera and Roberto Siqueros have a "We Are History" quality about them: "...and now, comrade Danton, it is time for the French Revolution!" We see nothing of the intellectual context of Kahlo's existence, merely hoary old clichés about the passions of the vie-revolutionairre! Nor, later, is it mentioned what became of Rivera's being suspected in the assassination of Trotsky. Nor was it mentioned that Siqueros was suspected of the first, botched, attempt on Trotsky's life.

Whilst Salma Hayek manages to look something like Kahlo, albeit more attractive, even with that giant cyclops eyebrow, her enacting the teen-age schoolgirl Frida is risible. Hayek is a gorgeous, curvaceous mature woman. As a schoolgirl she was entirely unbelievable. In common with most movies about artists, this one made almost no effort to try to get inside why the artist made the work that she did. We instead get, more or less, the old romantic cliché of the artists spontaneous and unaccountable stream of invention. There is no explanation of the undoubted fact that Kahlo was part of the Global Surrealist diaspora. No clue as to the influence upon her imagery of such painters as Paul Delvuax, Rene Magritte , Dorothea Tanning and Giorgio DeChirico. No hint, therefore, that her work was part of a global movement, rather than being simply some idiosyncratic flash in the pan. These influences on Kahlo are immediately apparent to anyone familiar with those artists' work, but to others not so versed some indication of that influence is needed if we are to see what she painted in context. If we are to understand, for example, that she may be seen as having taken the techniques of Surrealism and applied them to a very different sense of the "subconscious" and the "mind" than had it's mainly Francophone, mainly male, originators. Otherwise it appears, as I say, unaccountably idiosyncratic, arbitrary, solecistic and perverse. We are given no sense of Kahlo's mental landscape, her intellectual concerns or her taking on such issues. Nothing to indicate that, in fact, her art makes that of husband Rivera the "genius" seem plodding, dullard and dated. There is no real attempt to address the possibility that Kahlo was a talented and intelligent woman over-shadowed by an egoistic oaf. We are not even given any hint that she had an intellectual landscape or indeed anything going on in her head apart from lust and jealousy! And even this is treated in a trivialising and prurient "lesbian-romp" style.

Instead of any such guidance or context, what we are treated to is a collection of visual gags, tricks and tromp-loel animations of selected images that serve only to sprite up the story and divert our attention from the virtual absence of the real paintings. This is the stuff of pop-video's rather than any serious attempt to understand an artist. The very nadir is reached when a foolish cavalcade of cut-and-paste images lifted from various paintings rolls across the screen in advertisement of the directors absolute lack of understanding of visual art. You cannot divorce a detail of a painting from the rest and expect it to still equal the whole.

Faint attempts to show the continuous influence of physical pain upon Kahlo's iconography are undermined by the fact that said pain is occasionally referred to but almost not shown at all. Kahlo here never once actually looks like she has so much as a headache, let alone persistent ischemic and anatomical agony as a result of dozens of simultaneous fractures and tissue damage caused by being smashed to bits in a collision and impaled by a three foot steel bar! We are notified that this is the case. It is stated. But we are not given any real sense that the character we see is actually experiencing the persistent aftermath of such a trauma. Through most of the film she appears to be just swell! As happy as Larry! Tip top old bean. Only near the end do we see a few winces and a bit of a stagger appear. Yet we are told that the pain is omnipresent and we know that her paintings dwell on this. So why does this director so utterly fail to show us anything that connects the facts with the depiction!

There is nothing here to disavow me of my suspicion that Kahlo has been given such extensive attention as she has received in the past twenty years merely on account of her being (a) a woman in a man's world ( that of latino machismo and revolutionary artists ) and (b) one of the few well known artists from the "third world". There was nothing here to contradict my suspicion that the attention accorded this artist has largely been lead by feminists and leftist revisionaries on the basis of what they would like Kahlo to have been rather than what she actually managed to be.

I would have liked to have discovered otherwise. But I did not discover otherwise by watching this movie.
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A nice looking gossip column
stuit7 April 2003
This film could pass as a made-for-network-TV biopic of Frida Kahlo. Underneath all the pretty imagery, there's very little there. It looks nice - the film displays some well done imagery, just like Julie Tamor's other film, "Titus". Unfortunately, the imagery doesn't support any meaningful expression. The characters in this story are paper thin. The film provides no insight into their politics, relationships, or why they "must" paint.

When Rivera has his famous confrontation with Nelson Rockefeller, he declares that he "must stand by his principles." Up to that point, the film has never introduced us to any of Rivera's principles, or whether he had any principles at all.

There is a lot of reference to Frida Kahlo's pain after the trolley accident, but no insight into how this may have influenced her life and art. In fact Selma Hayek rarely shows Kahlo as being in pain at all, unless it's convenient to the story line.

This movie felt like the film makers expected us to be impressed by all of the already well-known details of Frida Kahlo's life: her accident, her relationship with Rivera, her art, her various affairs with Leon Trotsky, and others. So what? Without any insight into why these events are important, there is little to this film other than gossip.
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Four pillars on which the film is constructed: sexuality, politics, art, pain
harry_tk_yung16 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Some spoilers

The innate problem of looking at a film based on a true story is that there is not going to be a consensus on whether the personalities and facts are faithfully reflected, particularly the personalities. This seems to be particularly the case when you look at the various comments on Frida. Having acknowledged this problem, however, I shall not dwell on it, but will go directly to the four aspects cited in the summary line.

Sexuality in Frida (the film) has attracted too much discussion, which is not surprising given the attention the filmmakers have paid to it. Within this aspect, there is a variety of themes.

Look first at Diego Rivera, who is "physiologically incapable of fidelity". The film goes to a considerable extent to demonstrate this point. However, over the years since Benjamin Braddock and Mrs. Robinson's time, the saying that having sex is like shaking hands has become banal.

Of Frida Kahlo's occasional homosexual tendencies, repeated references approach the point of being irksome. Starting right from the beginning when she dresses as a boy for the family portrait, we see further hints in the exquisitely crafted dance scene with Tina Modotti (Ashley Judd), then more explicit treatment in New York when Gracia claims that Firda is "even better than her husband", building up to a grand finale in Paris.

Yet another theme on sexuality is the exploration of the sexual relationship between an elderly man and a relatively younger woman. While this one is less frequently tackled, a good example can be found in an excellent treatment and performance by Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City. In comparison, Frida's relationship with Leon Trotsky is more transient, but sufficiently interesting to leave an impression.

Politics purportedly constitutes quite an important part of Frida's life. The treatment of this aspect in the film, however, verges on an interpolation into the sexuality aspect, an interpolation that is often so abrupt as to leave the film a little disjointed. Politics as an important part of Frida's life has not come out clearly. At times, it is more like an afterthought.

Similarly, Frida Kahlo's stature as a legendary painter has not been fully projected on the screen. One reason maybe that during most of the duration of the film, she is under the shadow of Diego Rivera. There is perhaps also the distraction of the other aspects. For whatever reason, the prerception of "Frida Kahlo, the great painter" somehow does not seem to project as much as one might expect in this film.

In the final analysis, is it not true that Firda Kahlo's life was really shaped by her enduring the unendurable physical pain, day in, day out? If that is the case, the audience has not been led fully into this inner world of suffering. After witnessing what appears to be an amazing recovery from the accident, the audience goes on to share her colourful and turbulent life which she meets head on with vibrant energy and zeal. The full magnitude of her punitive predicament is not brought home until close to the end, when, at the top of the mini pyramid, she intimates to Leon Trotsky the true depth of her pain.

On casting, I must say it's splendidly done. Oscar nominee Salma Hayek and equally impressive Alfred Molina consistently complement each other's performance. The Kahlo family (father, mother and sister)is superbly portrayed by an ensemble of talented Central and South American artists not generally known to the global audience. Also deserving mentioning is the role of Diego Rivera's first wife, played by Italian actress Valeria Golino (I think).

The globally better known members of the cast are basically in cameo roles, except for Geoffrey Rush who plays Leon Trotsky. Of the remaining three, Ashley Judd playing the flamboyant Tina Modotti has relatively more scope, and is excellent. Interesting to see how her southern accent in Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood has gone even further south! The appearance of Antonio Bandaras and Edward Norton, as David Alfaro Sequeiros and Nelson Rockefeller respectively, albeit brief, would give a degree of satisfaction to people looking for some Hollywood flavor.

Tony Award winner (The Lion King) director Julie Taymore, who is also well versed in mime and puppetry, took on Frida as her second full-scale cinema motion picture. Other than faint traces here and there, the film does not betray her stage background. Interesting to note that there is a degree of surrealism in her handling of certain scenes, such as Frida waking up to the gravity of her injuries after the accident and her first impression of New York City. We also see scenes with a hypnotic blend of music and image. There is a pervasive aesthetic quality throughout the film.

In conclusion, althought not everybody's cup of tea, Frida has enough to interest the general audience, and intrigue some.
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The Story of a Great Mexican Artist, With a Stunning Performance of Salma Hayek
claudio_carvalho24 February 2004
Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek) is an tempestuous teenager, when she suffers a bus accident in Mexico. Her column and leg have multiples fractures and she is impaled by a metal bar. Her father and mother spend all the money they have in surgeries and treatments, and in the end, also due to her will and strength, she walks again. Frida shows her paintings to the famous painter, intellectual and communist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) to criticize them. He finds them excellent and they become friend, lovers and get married to each other. Diego is very unfaithful to her and has many night stands with his models, but when he has an affair with Frida's sister Cristina, their marriage ends and they divorce. In the 30's, Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush) gets political asylum in Mexico and is lodged with his wife in the house of Frida's parents. Frida and Trotsky have an affair, when Trotsky's wife ask him to move to another place. Rivera moves to USA and Frida has a gangrene in her toes. They are amputated and Frida gets worse and worse, using pain killers, steel jackets and other treatment. But she starts painting maybe her best pictures. Rivera comes back to Frida and gets married with her for the second time, and stays with her until her death. The story of this Mexican artist is wonderfully presented in this movie, with a stunning performance of Salma Hayek. Frida is showed as a great artist, revolutionary human being, having a great sexuality, feeling pain due to her accident, but having a great pleasure in life. All the cast and the direction are excellent. The theme song (`Burn It Blue'), from the Brazilian Caetano Veloso, is wonderful and won the Oscar. The make-up also won an Oscar. An excellent entertainment indicated for any audience. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): `Frida'
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The titular character deserved much better
bregund13 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Frida's life was a soap opera, and seemingly tailor-made for a film, but the tiny budget and mediocre performances don't do justice for such a brilliant artist. The lethargic pacing and frustrating sense of unexplored avenues gives the viewer the sense of an unfinished film. Salma Hayek is suitable in the main role, but she lacks the finesse and stage presence to portray such an iconic figure. Alfred Molina, normally a brilliant, chameleonic actor who vanishes into whatever role he plays, seems strangely inert. Even Geoffrey Rush as Trotsky isn't that great.

This claustrophobic film is mostly confined to the interiors of houses or studios, except for a hike up an Aztek pyramid and the famous bus accident that gave Frida lifelong pain. Even the trip to New York is a cheap, unsatisfying pastiche of flat graphics that any high school film studio could put together. One gets the impression that if they threw twenty million more at this film, it would have been as visually stunning as the artist's paintings themselves, which by the way aren't featured as prominently as you might expect.

I guess I was expecting the film equivalent of Frida's magical surrealism, but what came across instead was a paint-by-numbers drama force-fitting famous lines everyone knows, such as the mother's lament that Frida's marriage to Diego was like a dove marrying an elephant.
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More lively Frida
esteban17472 February 2004
If compared the former version of the director Paul Leduc with the present one of Julie Taymor, one should acknowledge that this version is more attractive for most of the fans of cinema. The former one is very original since there were no dialogues in the film but you should know something about Frida in order to understand the person and the context where she developed herself. Here Salma Hajek reflects all virtues and sins of this Mexican revolutionary woman. It was also easy to see the existing differences between two famous Mexican muralists, Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) and Alfaro Siqueiros (Antonio Banderas). The first one was an anti Stalinist while Siqueiros followed the orders of the Soviet dictator. Both were violent men. Siqueiros and other communists pro Stalin were in fact responsible for the barbarian murder of Trotsky. In the case of Frida, she was well represented by Salma Hayek as a revolutionary, left wing of doubtful communist ideas, lesbian and intensive lover. The disorder of her marriage with Rivera it is well shown in the film, as well as their incredible love for each other.
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Frida, Salma missed the boat
pinche1012 January 2003
IF Frida is any indication of what you can expect from Hollywood in 2003 save your Money. Frida Kahlo was a revolutionary not because of her Sex life but because of her Art. Her Art spoke for the pain in her back, the pain in her heart and the her belief in the people. However none of these thoughts reach the screen instead we get another based on a book trite Bio-pic. Frida is objectified and marginalized into cliches that we can easily dispose of into trash cans. The Film Frida tries to be on par with films such as Polluck or Lust for Life(Van Gogh, Kurt Douglas) which show the passion and reasons why these tortured masters painted the way they did. Instead the audience gets to see a whore, a drunk and empty, deformed characture that is pale in comparison to the real person. Frida was revolutionary because she painted such beauty in a time when everyone copied Picasso, Pop and Polluck. Frida's use of color stands far above her contemporaries. Diego Rivera painted Frescos when no one was. Instead the film choose to show "You are who you have Sex with instead of the Artist". Save your money or go see The Two Towers again This Film is not worth your time or money.
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Shallow, overly melodramatic and inconsequential biopic if you're not already a fan; mediocre offering otherwise
CompuLOL30 September 2013
If you already like the person, then it won't matter what I say. However, a more objective look will reveal that not only Frida the movie sucked; but so Frida, the person portrayed, herself. Especially as an artist. Her life story feels more like a bad TV movie of the week. Yes; it's sad what happened to her. But so what? A lot of other folks had it tougher out there, and you don't see them claiming their 15min of fame or their remaining heir's movie making deals. Why do I have to care about these overrated morons in the first place? I know; because Hollywood told me to. Better stated; their bourgeois friends, whether still living, or otherwise. Nevermind that's an excuse for a liberal gloryfest.- Well, there you go; I guess that's the reason this wasn't made into a film before. It's simply uninteresting. Even the supposedly racy issues. There's nothing I found controversial. I actually wish there was something; that would have make it less boring. I just didn't care for her romances; I found her art void, insipid, infantile, unmoving, overrated and lame; since she couldn't draw better that a 5yo. Also I thought her decisions were stupid, and by extension, so her overall existence. Bias notwithstanding, the only other group that overall liked it were mexicans; unsurprisingly. Sheeple that had some epiphany about her art or liked this movie experience are obv on some weird peyote stuff. I must admit that as a comedy, this works way much better. I laughed so hard at her misfortunes and stupidity that I almost cried. And after all their marriage was a joke too. As a matter of fact; the most interesting part revolves around the Trotsky murder affair, pun intended. Since this is also as much about Diego as it is about Frida. It makes sense to focus on him; because he was the most recognizable talent of the two. She simply comes of as arrogant, pedantic accessory; and being the greatest thing since the invention of the guacamole. The graphic style of the movie was the main thing that kept me watching throughout. Alfred's performance was adequate; and I most also grant that Selma looked and owned the part too. However, that's not enough in my book to gave it a positive review; merely an extra star. And the accents were bothersome and appalling too; specially of the secondary characters. I also knew right away the movie was never meant to be great since it was done in the English lang, not in Spanish. I mean; how many other Spanish Frida movies are out there; besides documentaries? Zero I think, and for a good reason. In the end, I just couldn't care less who Frida Kalho was before; and now that I know, I just despise her. And that is how powerful the effect this movie had on my perception of her...
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Paint By Numbers Biopic
evanston_dad4 August 2010
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-
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A fascinating film about the remarkable painter Frida Kahlo
Maddyclassicfilms19 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Frida is directed by Julie Taymor and stars Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush and Ashley Judd.

Frida is a stunning mixture of music and art rolled into a heartbreaking and inspirational film.

This is the true story of painter Frida Kahlo(Salma Hayek).Frieda is injured in a bus crash when she is a teenager and becomes a painter,wanting a professional opinion of her work she seeks out one of her country's great painters Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina).

Diego sees her talent at once and how she puts such pain and expression into her paintings he gets her to do more and her career slowly takes off. Along the way she and Diego become friends and eventually lovers and get married.However Frida learns that most of the time it's those closest to you who break your heart.Despite everything though she and Diego remain the closest of friends.

This film has really got me interested in Frida's art it's striking,unique and vibrant, much like Frida herself. I don't think there is another artist quite like her and this is a must see film for people interested in her life and work.

The entire cast are superb especially Salma as Frida,there are many fine supporting actors including Geoffrey Rush as Lenon Trotsky who has a brief affair with Frida and Ashley Judd as a bohemian fun loving friend of both Diego and Frida. Singer Lila Downs appears in the film as a singer and sings the films songs, she has a powerful and strong voice.
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