|(Review by Edgar Z.)|
Most film Biographies follow the Hollywood pattern: big stars mocking the famous, downplaying the subtleties and reality of the subject that we are not comfortable with in our every day life. If an historical figure has caused some type of controversy it is often overlooked, "tactfully handled" or mentioned as a footnote at ther end of the movie.
After all, reality within a biography movie doesn't work when you want to sell tickets. Few film biographies, especially related to artists show the internal and external conflict associated with their lives, much less their art. "Frida," the latest
film-bio about the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo succeeds as film in more ways than just another film biography. In fact the honesty, beauty and pain represented in director Julie Taynor's film, Frida, continues the tradition started with two other recent artist/biography films, "Basqiat" and "Pollock."
As with both Julien Schnabel's Basquiat and Ed Harris' Pollock, "Frida" allows the viewer to exerience the artist in the first person without prejudice or judgement. Not an easy task to complete when you are introducing some
of the more difficult aspects of their lives such as Basquiat's drug addiction or Pollock's alcoholism. Presented in context with their lives we understand their addictions as we understand Frida's lust for life coupled with pain.
Selma Hayek secures her career as a leading lady with a well rounded performance as one of the Century's most controversial artists, not only for her incredible paintings but her personal life, politics and loves. Selma's performance is incredible as she portrays the artist through her survival of a bus accident which left her in pain most of her life, her continually positive outlook on life despite her adversity (see the butterflies she paints
on her body cast) and the genuine humbleness she held towards her own art during her career. Supported by a cast as strong as this one Selma seems flawless in her effort to become Frida.
Alfred Molina is superb as her infidel lover and husband, the equally famous mural painter Diego Rivera. While sometimes a little cardboard, Ashley Judd provides sensuality as Italian photographer Tina Modotti in a beautiful dance sequence with Selma that is as innocent as it is sexual. Geoffry Rush, never a waste even in the smallest of roles,
is Leon Trotsky and Edward Norton as Rockefeller provide the historical context and political controversy
which was a large part of Frida and Diego.
Based on the biography written by Hayden Herrera, Julie Taymor brings out her patented brand of direction associated with not only her filmwork ("Titus"), but her Tony award winning shows such as the Broadway production of "The Lion King". She has that rare talent to use different approaches when representing a feeling or emotion through
dream sequences, allowing film techniques to break her free rather than to inhibit her or make the action
seem contrived. In fact, this film is ground breaking with it's ability to actually bring the paintings of Frida Kahlo to life in order to illustrate her life and the connections of her life to her art. Breathtaking visuals, brutally honest writing with direction, and sincere potrayals by the actors and actresses make Frida a winner of a film not only as a story or biography but as a piece of art itself.