Brilliant colours that bring Frida Kahlo’s Mexico City to vibrant life combine with a captivating performance by Salma Hayek to make director Julie Taymor’s Frida a fascinating film. Starting and ending with Frida on her deathbed, the film spans the famous painter’s life from her teenage years to her death at the young age of 47. From start to finish, Frida is portrayed as a relentlessly energized, self-righteous, headstrong, assertive woman. She had liberal views and a socialist political stance. She was bisexual and promiscuous. She drank and abused painkillers, sang and danced, and fearlessly poured her pain and beauty into her paintings. At the age of 18, Frida was horribly injured in a bus accident. Though she learned to walk again, she lived her life in physical agony, enduring multiple surgeries, and eventually needing a wheelchair. Yet her condition did not stop her from having an exciting, tumultuous life as the wife of famed artist and womaniser Diego Rivera, who mentored her in her own work and encouraged her passions. While Frida’s life is the main focus, her work is always present and the action of the film often fades into paintings and vice versa. However, the film only hints at the recognition and worldwide display that her painting received after her death. Taymor has created a lively and dramatically emotive film with Frida, capturing her endearing resiliency with colour, music and, of course, art.
This film is part of our program Female Frame: Breaking The Celluloid Ceiling.