left biblioblography: Frida – A Movie Review On A Movie About An Atheist

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frida – A Movie Review On A Movie About An Atheist

I just got done watch Frida – and wow, this is one great film.

After being attached to a number of actors, directors, and producers, this long-gestating biography of one of Mexico's most prominent, iconoclastic painters reaches the screen under the guiding hand of producer/star Salma Hayek. Hayek ages some 30 years onscreen as she charts Frida Kahlo's life from feisty schoolgirl to Diego Rivera protégée to world-renowned artist in her own right. Frida details Kahlo's affluent upbringing in Mexico City, and her nurturing relationship with her traditional mother (Patricia Reyes Spindola) and philosophical father (Roger Rees). Having already suffered the crippling effects of polio, Kahlo sustains further injuries when a city bus accident nearly ends her life. But in her bed-ridden state, the young artist produces dozens upon dozens of pieces; when she recovers, she presents them to the legendary -- and legendarily temperamental -- Rivera (Alfred Molina), who takes her under his wing as an artist, a political revolutionary, and, inevitably, a lover. But their relationship is fraught with trouble, as the philandering Rivera traverses the globe painting murals, and Kahlo languishes in obscurity, longing to make her mark on her own. Frida was directed by Julie Taymor, whose Broadway production of The Lion King won her international acclaim. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

And not only does Salma Hayek manage to make the uni-brow sexy (Salma being one of the women closest to being a goddess in my book), she also does a fantastic job in this film. Some critics say that Alfred Molina nearly steals the film, but I disagree. That Frida is crippled at the age of 15, and is in chronic pain is well conveyed by the actress, the seemingly indefatigable lust for life of the artist is well portrayed, and I say Salma should’ve gotten the Oscar for this.

Moments I particularly enjoyed:

Prior to Frida’s marriage to Rivera, her father (a German born Jew) and her mother (a Mexican Catholic) are discussing the impending nuptials. Her mother says (of Rivera), “How can you approve of this wedding? It’s like an elephant marrying a dove. He’s a communist and, “ spitting the word out “an atheist!”

At one juncture, Leo Trotsky (played by James Woods) is staying at the Rivera’s villa, accompanied by armed guards. The guards on the wall start shouting, “Back away! Get away from the bag!” Hub-bub ensues. Frida calmly waltzes to the gate, effortlessly lifts a revolver out of a guard’s holster, and goes out. Two old women are kneeling at the porch. “I’ll give you to the count of five to get out of here! One, two” BAM! off goes the gun, and the two women run off shrieking. She goes back in. “I’m sorry, it was my two aunts. They’re convinced you’re the Antichrist.” (Meaning Trotsky.)

Interspersed throughout the movie are wonderful illustrations of Kahlo’s work. Well written, well plotted, and chock full of talent (I kept recognizing people right and left: I rarely read the reviews or the cast list, because I like to be surprised), I highly recommend this movie.

(Note that it states here that Frida was an atheist, but in small print)

Two fists way up.

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