Soul Search of a Mexican, Bi-Sexual, Communist Artist
Starring: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina,
Geoffrey Rush, Ashley Judd,
Antonio Banderas, Edward
Norton, and Valeria Golino
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films/Buena Vista
Director: Julie Taymor
Executive Producer: Mark Amin and Brian Gibsen
Producer: Lindsay Flickinger and Sarah
Writer: Clancy Sigal
Address Comments To:Bob & Harvey Weinstein
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
One day, on a trip to the city, Frida is maimed in a horrible trolley accident. She must now wear a body cast and is told she will never walk again. To add insult to injury, Allehandro tells her he is moving to Europe.
Frida determines to walk again. While bed-ridden, she teaches herself to paint. Her favorite subject to paint is ladies; most of them with one long eyebrow, like her own. She portrays many of them with strange, mutilating piercings and bloody hearts connected to other women. Frida soon walks again, as she predicted. She takes her work to Alfred demanding an honest critique from the master. He tells her that her work is wonderful and the two become fast friends. On the same night that they promised each other to remain only friends, they have sex – Oops! They soon fall in love and Alfred proposes. He warns Frida that he is unable to be faithful, but he is certain to be loyal. Frida accepts the deal, and the two marry.
At a party, Frida dances a seductive dance with Tina Modotti (Ashley Judd) who toasts the newlyweds. Tina claims, however, that she doesn’t believe in marriage because it’s basically an outdated fundamentalist repression. She lauds them for being brave fools and everyone dances. Alfred’s ex-wife shows up and makes a scene, but Frida is un-swayed. She will be the woman to make Alfred settle down as a faithful husband.
As time passes and much bizarre artwork is completed, Alfred is asked to come to America to paint a mural celebrating “the worker” on a wall of the Rockefeller Center. When Alfred paints one of the characters to look like Stalin, he gets fired from the project and is forced to move back to Mexico.
Alfred soon asks Frida to provide asylum for prominent communist Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush) in her father’s home. She agrees. During the course of his visit, she falls for him, and the two have an affair. When Alfred finds out, he claims that his heart is broken. As Frida’s physical condition eventually worsens, her popularity as an artist increases. Both her travels to Paris and Alfred’s womanizing ways keep the couple apart for long periods of time. Alfred finally gets fed up and asks for a divorce.
As the story unfolds, several questions remain: Will Frida grant Alfred his divorce, or will her determined spirit find a way to make it all work out? Will her constant physical ailments and medical bills drag her off her mark as a popular artist? Will she ever find the freedom and life she so craves?
FRIDA has outstanding cinematography, authentic sets and costumes, clever symbolism, and that intriguing “take me away to distant places and times” feeling about it. The acting is superb. The story gives an interesting glimpse into a volatile time in history and politics: the period between the two world wars.
However, the movie also, unintentionally, shows the darkness of spirit that comes by following the vain philosophies and relativism of a worldview, or political system, void of biblical absolutes. The protagonist seems to adopt a spirit of perversion at an early age through watching the philandering ways of the same man she, ironically, later marries. Frida experiments with lesbianism throughout her life. Her artwork shows the despair of those with such confused polarization.
The communism this couple works so hard to preserve never becomes the great savior and bastion of freedom they hoped it would be. Instead, the artists’ tortured and confused lives seem to exhibit its bondage. Though they live in a Catholic community and participate in their rituals from time to time, the religion brings them no relationship with the Lord. They don’t allow it to have any transforming power in their lives.
The Psalms talk about our lives being a “handbreadth” and a “flower of the field, gone when the wind passes over it.” (Ps. 103) How pitiful and tragic it is to live and die as Frida and her husband did. Each lived their lives seeking out passion, perversion and politics as the answer to the lonely cry of their empty heart, never finding the truth. How the enemy has blinded eyes throughout the centuries to the deep satisfaction that comes from abiding in the heart of the One True God and enjoying an intimate relationship with Him forever.
FRIDA has outstanding cinematography, authentic sets and costumes, clever symbolism, and an intriguing escapism about it. However, the movie, unintentionally, also shows the darkness of spirit that comes by following the vain philosophies and relativism of a worldview and political system void of biblical absolutes. The overt sexual portrayals, including lesbian trysts, render the movie abhorrent for moral audiences.