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Movie Review: Frida

Story: Films about artists tend to be too superficial and I am sorry to say, while this film is visually stunning, the story left me with a large void. Frida Kahlo led a fascinating life in a very interesting historical time. The vignettes that are explored on the screen just do not connect as they should. However, kudos (or bravas) to Salma Hayek who worked on this project for ten long years and had the foresight to select director Julie Taymor (Titus) to bring this version to the screen.

The story covers 30 years in the life of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. She has become somewhat of a cult figure in our time and is being marketed solidly along with this film. Her struggle with physical pain and her difficult marriage to fellow artist Diego Rivera are depicted on the screen as a way to explain the meaning of her paintings. Based on Hayden Herrera's biography the film went through four different screenwriters (which is one of the obvious problems with the film). Despite the faults of the script - the imagery is so stunning at times that the film is definitely worth the price of admission just to see what Taymor has accomplished. And it might make you want to go to a museum and check out some of the wonderful art that Mexico has produced (and is still producing).

Acting: The best thing I can say about Salma Hayek's acting is that I am glad this film was produced through her efforts and not those of Madonna or Jennifer Lopez, who both wanted to produce films about Kahlo. Imagining either of those two in the lead role makes me nauseous. Hayek is beautiful and resembles Kahlo (on her best days) however, she is weak in the acting department. Her costumes were so strong that she often appeared more as a fashion model than a realistic character. Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera, was strong and able to carry out this somewhat two dimensional portrayal of a very complicated personality. The smaller roles played by Valeria Golina, Roger Rees and Edward Norton (who as Hayek's real life boyfriend rewrote the last script but has no film credit) were all valuable. Antonio Banderas continued with another in his long string of bad acting roles.

Critters: If you are familiar with Kahlo's art work you know that she includes many critters in her imagery. They are rampant in the film as well. My favorites were the little monkey, the peacock and of course the requisite, Chihuahua.

Food: Holy mole! Some wonderful food items including fritatas, tamales, tostadas, empanadas and chili's galore. Yummy!

Visual Art: A visual feast for the eyes with reproductions of Kahlo's and Rivera's work - and of the course the fabulous imagery of Julie Taymor.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Wonderfully rich

Theater Audience: Unbelievably jam-packed with people of all ages and ethnicity. This film will appeal to a broad spectrum. It was the first time in ages when a stranger actually had to sit next to me (I did not like it).

Quirky Meter: 1

Oscar Worthy: Costumes and art direction might be worthy.

Nit Picking: I wanted to see more of Taymor's visions. I was disappointed when her visual flights of fancy were over and the film reverted back to the story line.

Big Screen or Rental: Oh, the big screen most definitely. And it you want to see more of Kahlo's art, go to: http://www.artchive.com/artchive/K/kahlo.html#images

Length: Two hours (it seemed longer).