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Frida

2002

R

This biography of artist Frida Kahlo explains how she channeled the pain of a crippling injury and her tempestuous marriage into her work.

Starring:
Salma Hayek, Mía Maestro
Runtime:
2 hours, 2 minutes

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Customer Reviews

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By Mr. Joe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 29, 2002
FRIDA, with Salma Hayek in the title role, is a vibrant celebration of the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), and an unsparing look at her tumultuous, passionate marriage to the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina). Another major thread is the involvement of both with the Communist Party. In the latter half of the film, Geoffrey Rush makes an appearance as the exiled Leon Trotsky running from Stalin's death squads.
Hayek's performance is the finest I've seen by an actress so far in 2002. An Oscar nomination is surely in the cards. Though I understand that FRIDA uncovers nothing new about the life of Kahlo not already known by devotees of her work, the film was a total revelation for me who knew nothing about the artist. And Costuming and Make-up built on Hayek's natural appearance to create the spitting image of the real Frida (whose photo I've just seen on the Web).
Visually, the film is a riot of color. I especially liked those scenes where the viewers' eyes are drawn to a brightly costumed Frida set against surroundings colored with contrasting sepia and/or pastel tones.
My only picky-picky complaint about FRIDA is its treatment of Kahlo's physical condition after the horrific 1925 bus accident that left her with multiple fractures of her pelvis, spine, ribs and leg, and which necessitated over 30 follow-up operations in her lifetime. The visual force of her paintings is generated both by her complex emotional life as well as the terrible physical pain she constantly suffered. Yet in the film, between that time she learns to walk again without a crutch and much later when she climbs an Inca pyramid with Trotsky, there's absolutely no hint in Hayek's portrayal that the artist was in any way physically debilitated beyond an inability to bear children.
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This is the best artist biopic I have seen, and it's a remarkable achievement for Salma Hayek, and director Julie Taymor.
Based ( with certain fictionalizations) on the excellent Hayden Herrera biography, the re-creation of Mexico in the first half of the 20th century is a marvel.
The cast is wonderful. Hayek is perfect as the petite Frida, and Alfred Molina so believable as Rivera. There are small parts filled in by Edward Norton, Ashley Judd, and Antonio Banderas, and with Geoffrey Rush as Trotsky.
I especially like the acclaimed Welsh actor, Roger Rees, as Guillermo, Frida's father, and beautiful Valeria Golino, as Rivera's ex-wife.
The soundtrack by Elliot Goldenthal (Taymor's husband) is terrific, full of traditional Mexican songs that add so much to this film.
The magnificent Lila Downs sings several songs (she is briefly seen in 3 of them), and among them is a signature song for her, "La Llorona"...a second version of this song is sung by the legendary Costa Rican star of years gone by, Chavela Vargas, and another treat is the voice of Caetano Veloso in the final end title song.
Perhaps my favorite part of this film are the "living paintings". Innovative and spectacular, I think Frida would have loved this added dimension to her work. The film ends with the final words from her diary: "I hope the exit is joyful--and I hope never to come back--Frida".
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Format: DVD
I have seen Frida five times at the cinemas, and got the DVD as a gift. I must say that this is by far the most visually stunning, inspirational, and emotionally impacting film I have ever seen. Before this movie came out, I went the Vancouver Art Gallery to see some of Frida Kahlo's paintings and saw the documentary of her life. I was very fascinated by several of paintings, but I didn't get to see The Two Fridas or the paintinngs with the monkeys. I was moved to tears by the documentary of her life, and I instantly became a fan. I then bought the novel based on her life, and read it before the movie came out. I was dying to see the movie.

This beautiful biopic is directed by the Julie Taymor, whose film Titus was an equally visual feast. It's a dream come true for the Oscar nominated Salma Hayek, who had spent more that seven years trying to get this movie made. It was a good thing that Madonna and Jennifer Lopez didn't get to do it, because they wouldn't be suitable to play Frida. Salma Hayek gave the performance of her career, and she actually hadn't done anything great before this movie, except for In The Times Of The Butterflies, which also costarred Mia Maestro who played her sister in both movies. Even though Salma lost the award to the overrated Nicole Kidman(The Hours), Frida still won two out of the six nominations. The music composed by Elliot Goldenthal trully capture the spirit of Frida and Mexico. Some of the songs are sung by Lila Downs, and Chavela Vargas. Burn It Blue heard at the end of the film is so beatiful. I even bought the soundtrack. Salma Hayek had more than fifty costumes here, designed by Julie Weiss on a shoestring budget.
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Format: DVD
Before watching this movie I had no idea who Frida was. I knew that the film was directed by Julie Taymor (Titus), which meant that it would have a striking visual style. I knew that the movie starred Salma Hayek and that she had wanted to play this role for years. I knew that it had been nominated for 6 Academy Awards including a Best Actress nomination for Hayek. But I did not know anything about the subject of the film.
Frida is a biopic focusing on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek). As much as the movie focuses on the life of Frida, it seemed that the main thrust of picture was on Frida's relationship with her husband, painter Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina). The film does cover Frida's life from her childhood right up to her death. We begin the movie when Frida is a young woman aspiring to be a painter. Her father is highly supportive of her dreams. However, she is riding on a trolley one day when it gets into an accident. She has to be in a body cast for some time and it was in doubt whether she would ever walk again. She recovers, but she lives a life of pain. Frida meets the womanizing painter, Diego Rivera and they get married. This does not mean that he changes his ways and naturally this causes problems in their marriage. They remain committed to each other even when they are each sleeping with other people. Over the course of the movie we see Frida painting, but it seems that Frida the artist gets pushed to the side and we see Frida the woman/wife. I don't know enough about Frida Kahlo to know if this is a flaw in the movie or not, but it is just the way the movie is.
The acting in this movie is superb. Nothing feels wrong or forced. But, surpassing even the excellent acting is the visual presentation of Frida.
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