Frida is a
sanitized biopic of the painter Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek) and her life
with Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), beautifully photographed by Rodrigo
Prieto. Rivera was a
revered Mexican muralist and painter, controversial because of his
bohemian lifestyle and Communist politics.
This film deals with all of that from Frida’s point of view,
including her affair with Bolshevik Leon Trotsky.
tragically injured while still a teenager and left with a life
burdened by constant pain. She
falls in love with Rivera, despite Rivera’s way with women that
results in his sleeping with virtually every woman with whom he comes
in contact. He asks Frida
to marry him and she asks if he can be faithful.
He replies that he cannot be sexually faithful, but he can be
loyal, which she accepts. This
loyalty is abused on their wedding night.
is a tepid accounting of their life together, and her developing
career. While this movie
is interesting and does capture Frida’s courage in facing a lifetime
of pain without letting it dominate her, it doesn’t emphasize her
pain enough to let us feel what she’s going through.
And it skimps on Frida’s fervent Communism, making it seem
like Rivera was the serious one and Frida just a bystander. In true life, however, Frida said, “I was a member of the
Party before I met Diego and I think I am a better Communist than he
is or ever will be.” This
is certainly not apparent from the movie.
It also emphasizes her lesbian affairs, which were tolerated by
Rivera, and, except for Trotsky, ignores her heterosexual affairs,
which caused Rivera violent jealousy.
Director Julie Taymor makes a nice start here, but has told a
story about hugely emotional people that is strangely lacking in
courageous in living a life filled with pain and the infidelities of
her husband. But by
ignoring her ardent Communism and her infidelities with other men,
Frida seeks to create a saint without providing all the facts.
The movie would have been so much more meaningful were it to
have shown her with all her warts (and moustache), leaving it to the
viewer to decide whether the admirable outweighed the notorious.
While this film holds your interest, in the final analysis, the
truth would have made a much better story.