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"You dance divinely--and you are my favorite of all the Judds."
Frida is a picture that's been kicking around Hollywood for years. Madonna was even attached at one point. In the end, this film has become a labor of love for Spanish beauty Salma Hayek, and the actress will surely make waves with what is truly her strongest work.
This is the true story of Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican artist who's work perfectly showcased her pain. Frida is also an interesting love story featuring the volatile yet loving relationship that blossomed between Kahlo and fellow artist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina).
Salma Hayek is really spectacular in a performance that is both mentally and physically challenging. She soars on both levels. And despite the much publicized uni-brow, it is virtually impossible to make this beautiful actress unglamorous. She has this vibrant, spunky aura about her that makes her inner beauty shine through. This is certainly the strongest work she's done, and she will, no doubt, be taken seriously as a dramatic actress after skeptics see her in this. Molina is also spectacular as Frida's womanizing husband. While this easily could have been a despicable character, Molina's charm and humanity, keep him from becoming a villain. Frida is also filled with terrific bit parts from Edward Norton, Mia Maestro, Patricia Reyes Spindola, Roger Rees, Valeria Golino, Ashley Judd, and an unrecognizable Geoffrey Rush as a political activist.
The screenplay is a bit spotty. We are given a glimpse into Frida's life from her teenage years and on, but their are gaps in which lapses of time go by in a matter of a couple of minutes. I also found it hard to truly feel sorry for Frida when her husband would cheat on her because she chose to be with him. But then, sometimes you just can't help who you fall in love with.
Theatre director Julie Taymor (who also directed Titus) takes an innovative approach to the material. Her theatric and ambitious take on certain moments reminded me of Sam Mendes' American Beauty and Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge, and while some bits feel a little over the top (most notably, Frida's nightmarish hospital entrance early on in the film), Taymor captures the life of this tortured and respected artist in unique fashion.
While there are aspects of Frida's life left unexplored (her affection for members of the same sex was just sort of there rather than explored), I found this movie to be extremely interesting in it's depiction of a woman who painted from the heart. It's also a gutsy exploration into one crazy and intense love affair.
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