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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Frida

Starring: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina
Director: Julie Taymor
Rated: R
RunTime: 119 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genre: Drama

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

I suspect most people-on-the-street haven't a clue who Frida Kahlo was but that didn't stop Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna from vying to make a film about her. Salma Hayek won and deserves an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the feisty, courageous Latina artist who died in 1954 after conquering childhood polio and recovering from a devastating bus accident that crushed her spine, leaving her with a lifetime of physical pain. In conservative, Mexico City, Frida Kahlo was the daughter of a German Jewish photographer (Roger Rees) and Mexican Catholic mother. Always controversial, Frida became a boldly tempestuous, bisexual, Communist who agreed to a tumultuous open marriage with womanizing muralist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), who not only bedded his nude models but also Frida's sister. In retaliation, Frida cavorted with bohemian photographer Tina Modotti (Ashley Judd) and Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush). A surrealist, Frida specialized in self-portraiture, concentrating particularly on her physical traumas and tortured soul. While Salma Hayek duplicates her unibrow and slight mustache, she's still spectacularly beautiful which Frida Kahlo wasn't. Adapting Hayden Herrera's biography, five credited screenwriters excised the unsavory political undertones - Frida was an outspoken Stalinist - while director Julie Taymor ("Titus," Broadway's "The Lion King") treats the Mexican cultural icon with emotionally distant respect, concentrating on her passionate creativity, using dazzling visuals with CGI effects to make Kahlo's paintings come to life, dramatically capturing the bright light, intense colors and folkloric motifs. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Frida" is a sensual yet superficial 7, emerging as romantic arthouse film.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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