TIFF: Art Cinema: Painters on Screen: Frida (2002) - Reviewed

John reviews Frida

Frida Kahlo is one of history’s most influential and prominent women, from her iconic style to her incredible way of painting; the communist revolutionary and the former wife of Diego Rivera has left her mark on history. The film Frida does an excellent job at portraying Kahlo's outlandish and enigmatic life from her fateful accident which left her in constant pain to her affairs with Leon Trotsky later in life.

With a star-studded cast, and excellent directing skills Frida is a film that, while getting up there is age, still stands the test of time to look both marvelous and surreal at times.

The part of Frida Kahlo is played so well and so realistically by Salma Hayek that it almost looks like the part is being played by the real life Kahlo. From her iconic uni-brow to her no-nonsense attitude Hayek looks and acts like the historical Frida Kahlo. From her interactions with Rivera to her dramatic portrayal of Kahlo's most personal moments, there was no better actress to play the famed artist than Salma Hayek.

Hayek’s co-star Alfred Molina — who you may remember as Doctor Otto Octavius in Sam Raimi’s Spider Man 2 — played the part of the outlandish, womanizing, yet talented Diego Rivera. Molina plays the part of the imposing yet sometimes jolly Riviera perfectly, his time opposite of Hayek as Kahlo does the perfect job of showing how odd yet perfect the two were during their time being married.

The next biggest name who plays his part so well is Geoffrey Rush, otherwise known as the great Hector Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, who plays exiled Soviet Union co-founder, and good friend of the historical Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky. With his district glasses and facial hair, Rush looks eerily similar to the real life Leon Trotsky and is indistinguishable from how he looks in the past; yet it’s easy to say that in his short time spent in the film he absolutely nails the role.

Talented cast aside, the biggest strength of the film is director Julie Taymor's cinematography. Traymor’s filming style sees real paintings and work of both Kahlo and Rivera blended into shots only to transition away so smoothly you almost have to take a second glance.

Lastly Frida is interesting due to the fact that we get to see the personal lives and beliefs of both Kahlo and Rivera, from their first meeting when Kahlo is a young determined art student, to Rivera’s time as staunch Communists revolutionary using his art to try and inspire change.

Overall Frida is great and is much recommended to anyone with the slightest interest in history or is simply looking for film filled with stars that you wouldn’t even realize had a small part to play in the film.

Frida screens Friday at TIFF

-John Bozick