Review of “Frida”

The film touches on the major points of her life, but it primarily focuses on her relationship with Diego. This is a little disappointing since she is so well known as a bisexual woman. The only scenes that show her with women are set in a very masculine erotic frame. The first involves winning a drinking game in order to dance with the stunning hostess and photographer, Tina Modotti (Ashley Judd), at a party. Frida subverts the macho posturing by taking the biggest drink uninvited, then performing a sensual tango with "the prize."

This scene is sexy because it is two beautiful women dancing together, but it also seems very superficial.

The second film moment capturing Frida’s intimate interaction with a woman is her revenge sex with a Parisienne singer in order to to get even with Diego. Both scenes are thrown into the movie for titillation as opposed to taking a meaningful look at her relationships with women outside of the marriage to Diego.

This is disappointing for a biographic film of her life since it minimizes her non-heterosexual relationships.

I also found it a little odd and disconcerting that the film is in English, but the actors all have pronounced Mexican/Spanish accents. I’m not sure why the director/screenwriters didn’t just make the film in Spanish, but it makes things easier for the non-Spanish speakers.

Despite these gaps, this is still a fantastic movie. It shows Frida as a strong woman who spent her life dealing with physical pain, and was miraculously not only able to walk and dance again after massive injury, but transform that pain into art that is so popular it is still mass-produced and immediately recognizable over 50 years later.

The film skillfully weaves in many of the elements of magical realism that are the trademarks of her art, via the use of puppetry and collage-like cinematography. These moments come up unexpectedly and suggest what the creative process might have been like for Frida.

The soundtrack is fantastic, the actors are easy on the eyes, and the period costumes and sets made me want to run off to Oaxaca. This is a lush, gorgeous movie that, in spite of its flaws, is well worth a view.

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