After last year’s Oscar season, I was so sick of biopics I wanted to puke. But for every Unbroken, and American Sniper, there’s a film like Frida waiting just around the corner, or in this case, just around the Netflix instant streaming side-scrolling thing. Frida—as in Frida Kahlo—manages to hit that biographical sweet spot by being both surprisingly informative and hugely entertaining in its own right.
The film, appropriately enough, paints a portrait of the real-life Frida Kahlo, beginning with the traumatic trolley accident of her youth and traces a path from the discovery of her artistic talent to her tumultuous yet passionate relationship with famed Mexican painter Diego Rivera—from her brief, clandestine love affair with Leon Trotsky and ultimately to her tragic, premature death.
Directed by Julie Taymor, Frida is nothing if not a visual treat and succeeds in capturing the ferocious vitality of Kahlo’s life and work. Selma Hayek plays the titular Frida Kahlo in perhaps her most stunning work to date, achieving an Oscar nod at the 2003 Academy Awards, while the always-excellent Alfred Molina shines as the brooding and passionate Rivera. Geoffrey Rush, likewise, makes a wonderfully understated cameo appearance as Trotsky.
To quote the AFI, “Frida is a movie about art that is a work of art in itself.” Taymor clearly brought a ton of heart and passion to the project that translates it directly to the screen, and this larger-than-life depiction of Kahlo proves to be a loving, deeply moving tribute to the legacy of one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century.
Rating: 4 out of 5