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Frida /

Rated: R

Starring: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Antonio Banderas, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush 

Directed by: Julie Taymor 

Produced by: Lizz Speed, Roberto Sneider, Jay Polstein, Nancy Hardin, Liz Speed, Lindsay Flickinger, Salma Hayek, Sarah Green 

Written by: Rodrigo García, Clancy Sigal, Diane Lake, Gregory Nava, Anna Thomas, Edward Norton

Distributor: Miramax Films


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     A truly amazing and artful piece of work, Julie Taymor’s Frida is an astounding cinematic breakthrough, creatively comprised of a witty ingeniousness. Lavishly colorful and stylishly out bursting, this is a film that is simply beautiful to watch, because of the richness of what’s onscreen. In a time where special effects consume the movie industry and big-budgets are common, it’s nice to see a lower-budget film be as visually magical as one of Hollywood’s giant, moneymaking extravaganzas. Frida Kahlo, the amazing woman in which the film chronicles, was an outstanding artist. The simple beauty of her work is reflected in Frida, with the visionary art direction by Bernardo Trujillo, to thank. Stunning performances, outstanding direction, wondrous cinematography, and a magical script are what Frida thrives on. This is a masterful film, lively and energetic in it’s every move, and is one of the best of the year.

     The life of Frida Kahlo is an intriguing one. The film begins in Mexico City, in 1922, when Frida (Salma Hayek), a schoolgirl, and her friends, are spying on Mexican painter Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), as he creates a mural of a naked woman. There is a woman posing for him, and naturally, her male friends would like to watch this man and his model for an eternity. But, seeing that they cannot miss the trolley to get home, Frida and her boyfriend, Alex (Diego Luna), try to creep out of the large auditorium with their friends without him noticing. Diego discovers them, and threatens to shoot them from a distance, but they are able to get away. Frida and Alex barely make the trolley. They hop on, and are off on their way home. But, when boarding the trolley, Frida would not know that the ride will drastically change her life in the future. In reckless traffic, rapidly swerving every which way on the road, the trolley crashes. Frida, unluckily, gets the worst of it. During the crash, her backbone is shattered, and a steel rod pierces her body.

     This brutal injury, which sends her into a deep sleep for two weeks, affects Frida for the rest of her lifetime. After finally gaining the strength to be able to walk, much of her social hope has already been lost. Her boyfriend has left the city, and she feels a great amount of desolate despair. But there is one thing that she always stays true to, her artwork. Continuously painting with true feeling and emotion, Frida metaphorically combines the emotions she confronts and the bitter taste of reality. In need of an honest opinion on her paintings, Frida consults the man that she unkindly spied on before the accident, Diego Rivera. Very apprehensive at first, Diego doesn’t exactly feel like looking at this young schoolgirl’s work. But, when he finally does, a whole new world is left open to him. Frida and Diego become partners, share experiences, and examine each others work. As time moves on, the couple becomes intimate. Though Diego has divorced twice before, Frida takes her chances and marries her inspiration, and lover. Their lives unravel beautifully amidst a beautifully flowing and divinely catchy score by master composer Elliot Goldenthal. 

     Frida is a film, made mystical simply by the way it looks. The cinematography, art direction, make up, costume design, and set design are all masterfully done. Each shot is posed with such a distinct delicacy; each scene stands its own unique, distinguished individual. The camera elegantly pans in and out, with rapidly furious movement, making Frida a full-fledged extravaganza of pure, simple goodness. The costumes and makeup are both authentic and eye-pleasing. The intricate designs and richly colorful fabrics look like flowers amongst a beautiful garden, for the old-style view of Mexico City is a gorgeous and cultural look at beauty. This is where the visionary and stunning sets come in handy. The decorations, vibe, and mood of each scene, set by these sets and sceneries, are amazing. This is a film of exuberantly flowing, wondrous exercises in profoundly artful cinema, exhibited through a masterful work. This is a miraculous film about a miraculous person. I was overjoyed while watching it, and I am overjoyed by thinking about it. Frida accomplishes everything a great movie should.

     The ensemble, color, writing, and makeup are just a few of the hundreds of beautiful things in Frida that naturally and vividly paint a portrait of excellent cinema. This amazing work of art is passionate, and we can clearly sense the intimate and graceful style that it was made in, while watching it. Similar to this year’s Road to Perdition, Frida simply works because of the way it looks. Everything else is technically sound, but the one aspect of the film that we forever gaze at, is the mystifyingly daring visuals. These are hauntingly unforgettable. We experience the emotions of the characters, and as the film moves, become deeply aroused in them. Shocking, sadistic, sexy, and well-crafted, Frida is nothing short of a masterpiece. Director Julie Taymor clearly shows us what film is about—the beauty and wonder left in the world.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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