Exceptional biopic chronicling the life of Frida Kahlo, a prominent Mexican artist to whom I was completely oblivious. And what a life she lived! From suffering crippling back & leg injuries during a bus accident as a teenager, to romancing Mexico's most important painter of the 1930's Diego Rivera, to participating in her country's socialist uprising, to indulging in bisexual relationships, to gaining international fame as painter herself, to having an affair with communist fugitive Leo Trotsky!
The film does a great job of highlighting some of the turning points in Frida's life while exploring her psyche and detailing her artistic vision. They show many examples of her work, which are at turns captivating, surreal, and horrific. Her style evolves from simple portraiture to complex, sometimes grotesque imagery. "I don't believe that ever before has a woman put such agonized poetry on canvas," as Diego Rivera describes. The movie gave me a real, firm sense of this woman's motivations, as if it knows what is talking about, not some fuzzy portrait where I don't know any more than when I started which frequently is a biopic's pitfall.
The production is glorious, colorful, and authentic, harmonizing with a vibrant soundtrack and some ingenious visual effects that literally bring some of Frida's artwork to life. The acting is equally superb top to bottom. Salma Hayek is completely infused with her subject's spirit and clearly, as star and co-producer, this was a labor of love. I hadn't realized before how short she is, but she rocks a unibrow like no other.
Other than knowledge of some award nominations, I had no expectations for Frida and it emerged a real winner.