June 10, 2023 at 3:58 am

Frida (2002)

Frida (2002)
Director: Julie Taymor
Writers: Clancy Sigal (screenplay), Diane Lake (screenplay), Gregory Nava (screenplay), Anna Thomas (screenplay), Hayden Herrera (book)
Stars: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush


“If you have ever stood in front of a Frida Kahlo self-portrait, wishing you knew the real woman who lived that neverending pain, those wild choices and odd triumph of becoming one of the few women painters ever to become a household word, you’re in for a treat withFrida. Filmmaker, Julie Taymor, peels Frida straight from her canvas, giving us the gift of her vivacious, courageous spirit in full living color.”

In the film’s opening scenes, Frida Kahlo is being carried from her cobalt blue, red-trimmed house in a small wooden bed onto the back end of an open truck. Frieda smiles through excruciating pain as the cobble-stoned road jostles her fragile body. Where is she going? She turns her head and – with a little film magic – enters the blossoming body of a teenage girl racing through a hallway without encumbrance.

Exuberantly full of life and gathering boys as she runs, a young Frida laughingly exposes Diego Rivera in an illicit sexual moment with one of his nude models. Only moments later, Frida herself tumbles half-dressed from a scramble in a closet with a young boyfriend. And, before we can blink an eye, Frida’s vagina is pierced by a steel rod in the infamous bus accident that turned her voluptuous body into one that would never know another pain free day.

Frida captures Frida’s quixotic heroism, inspiring us all to embrace that belief in the triumph of spirit that we often find elusive. Life, for Frida, was far more than any materialistic, corporeal existence. She spun her art from somewhere deep within that broken, crumbling body that gave out too soon. Her vibrant sexuality sustained her in the darkest moments of despair and disillusionment, bringing her great joy, infusing her with stature and rescuing her more than once with an adventure that lifted her beyond the ordinary. She was a woman who left few stones unturned. We’ve known the details – the open marriage with Diego, the fling with Josephine Baker and the affair with Leon Trotsky – but until this film, we had no picture of her charisma, the allure of her astonishing vitality. Lying flat on her back, she painted. Second fiddle to a genius, she flourished. Humiliated, she took charge. Seemingly, to the end, she was like the three-year-old who says unabashedly and without reservation, “I’m adorable”.

“So, where are you going?” this portrait of Frida asks. It’s not a question of destination. It’s a matter of choice. It’s a matter of the choices we make, every day. It’s the path of the Uroboros (the rippling circle of life symbolized by a snake biting its tail), making new beginnings from old endings. Where was Frida going in the flatbed of that truck? You can answer that question for yourself after you see the film.

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