Anthony's Film Review

Frida (2002)

Salma Hayek captures the painful emotional journey of a brilliant Mexican painter...

When I think of art, the painters who first come to mind tend to be from Europe in centuries past, like Leonardo da Vinci (famous for the Mona Lisa), Vincent van Gogh (who painted Starry Night), and Claude Monet (an Impressionist painter). If we move to the early 20th century, we may come across the Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, whose art includes a painting that depicts a melting clock. Now, if we stay in this same period but move west to Central America, we discover another surreal artist: the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, the subject of the 2002 film Frida starring Salma Hayek as the painter.

While I will say that Hayek's performance isn't undeniably spectacular, she still plays her role quite well, and I can think of no other actress who would fit the part. In addition, the narrative of the story follows a common method of having the first scene in the present, then going back in time to the beginning and proceeding chronologically all the way to the present. But that doesn't mean the movie Frida isn't a good one. It is. It's just a conventional movie that still manages to engage the audience with an interesting life story.

What makes Frida's life story interesting? The fact that it's characterized by so much tragedy and heartbreak. Early in the story, Frida is a young schoolgirl who suffers from a terrible trolley accident, leaving her with multiple fractures and a metal rod impaling her lower body. While recuperating in a near full-body cast, Frida spends her time painting in her bed. Obviously, this is the beginning of what would be a life of tragedy feeding her artistic passion.

Besides the trolley accident, Frida encounters what is arguably the other major source of her emotional pain. She meets muralist Diego Rivera (played by Alfred Molina), and the two eventually fall in love and get married. However, this is something that doesn't sit well with Frida's mother, as Diego is an atheist as well as a communist. But what makes the marriage shaky is something else: Diego's womanizing ways. Even as the two stay together, Frida explores her own sexuality with her own set of affairs, including a lesbian affair with one of Diego's ex-wives.

I did say that this film is a rather conventional one. Still, there is one feature that makes this movie interesting: special effects. There are scenes that depict Frida's paintings with interesting animations. For example, there's a painting that puts Salma Hayek's Frida in place of the actual painted Frida, but has much resemblance to the original. There's another painting with two Fridas, with Salma Hayek in the place of one Frida. The result is an image that looks as if the actress is meeting the painter as a tribute. All of these special effects scenes do help one understand how Frida's emotional turmoil ends up on the canvas.

As saddening as Frida's life is, the movie does end on a relatively high note. The final scene reminds us that Frida Kahlo's creations are indeed brilliant works of art. So even after such a difficult life, the artist gets the recognition she deserves. So if you're looking for at least one bit of inspiration in the movie, it's there. Overall, the movie Frida may not be a masterpiece, but if you love art as well as movies about art, Frida is definitely worth seeing. And if you just love movies in general, Frida is pretty good, a decent work of cinematic art.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Frida, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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