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Frida (2002)

September 6th, 2007 by Maxim · No Comments · 4,382 Views


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I saw this 6-Oscar nominated, 2-Oscar-winning movie on DVD several years ago, and now I watched it again on HD cable channel.

The film directed by Julie Taymor shows what kind of people were Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) and Frida, how they came out to be what they are, what kind of people have surrounded them, how two artists lived and worked together and how they took the art world by storm! It very well conveys the atmosphere of the ’20s and ’30s, the wind of change when the world was crazy about revolutions, communism and socialism, which artists all over the world were picking up and lifting above their heads like a banner. It shows how Frida met Diego Rivera, how two artists have connected, how she set herself up for a life of misury with a guy who’s incapable of loyalty by marrying him, how complex this relationship was and how the world around them changed. The movie shows many aspects of Frida’s character and life: sometimes she is fiery and provocative, sometimes she is very vulnerable. How she suffered from her injury, poor thing!

I love Diego Rivera’s paintings. When they were in LACMA, I went to the exhibition four times in a row, each time discovering something new, and getting drunk on the sunny and happy images he had created. But I love Frida’s paintings even more: like Picaso’s Guernica, she masterfully conveys screaming pain, suffering and grief. She is so full of life (all young people are), but the injury she sustained in the trolley in her young years changed her entire life, her dreams and hopes, but it also affected, if not defined her art work. This movie gives a lot of background information and helps better understand her.

Alfred Molina, who gained 50 pounds for this role, played Diego Rivera. He is great in every movie he had done. Very versatile actor who is brilliant in roles ranging from Doctor Octavius in Spiderman-2 to his roles in “Hoax”, “My Life Without Me”, “Coffee and Cigarettes” and “Magnolia”. Hollywood, use this guy while you can!

Salma Hayek did an outstanding job in the best dramatic role of her career. Period. See for yourself.

Ashley Judd and Antonio Banderas are also present in a few episodes. Judd was there mostly for a provocative dance with Frida, and Banderas was very effective as socialist who gives speech to Rivera about him being too friendly with people who he swore was his enemies. I wanted to see more Banderas in this movie – he was good. Reducing his role to mere episode is director’s blunder.

The guy who played Trotsky, Geoffrey Rush, was the worst part of the movie, although he had done great job in dozens of other movies (”Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Candy”, “Munich”, “Intolerable Cruelty”, my favorite with him, “Taylor of Panama”, “Elizabeth” (he’s going to appear again in the sequel, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” coming out in 2008) and Les Misérables), so I blame the director. Sorry for excessive brackets… He is a caricature. For that reason I don’t see how, for the purposes of the movie, Frida could have liked or even connected with this guy. He is a shallow pervert here. The only way Frida+Trotsky thing could have happened is if she wanted to hurt Diego in response to all the times he had hurt her in the same manner. And judging by books and movies like “Surviving Picasso”, I think I can see why these men could get women so easily: they are interesting. Oh, Trotsky’s and Natalia’s Russian was pretty terrible – a usual little disappointment with Hollywood movies.

I liked the collage-style scene describing their venture New York and commission to paint the wall in Rockefeller Center – very much in style of the time. And also animation where Frida sees herself in the painting, or how her own pain transforms the painting. By the way, speaking of effects: I thought King Kong was released in 1933, but Frida died in 1932… Oops.

DVD contains a worth-a-listen commentary by director Julie Taymor and conversation with Salma Hayek, a wolk through real locations and commentary on music and effects. A great book: “The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-portrait”.

Salma Hayek is really short.

Trivia: Edward Norton, who played an episodic role of young Rockefeller, did [an uncredited] rewrite of the movie’s script.

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Rated 5/5 on Sep 6 2007
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Tags: Biographical · Canada · DVD · Drama · Foreign · Mexico · Movies

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