- 2002 1 Jan
Director Julie Taymor, famous for her elaborate stage production of
Regarding the reckless behavior of the central characters, Lansingh writes, "I can't pretend to hold Kahlo and Rivera up as moral paragons, but I think they do commit a courageous and revolutionary act. It is not when they get married, as the character in the film suggests. It is when, after having seen the utter blackness in each other, they remarry. I find myself moved by such "impracticality.""
But Lisa Rice (Movieguide) objects to the film, saying, "Despite superb acting and outstanding cinematography,
Mainstream critics are already offering mixes of praise and disappointment, calling it overly ambitious. A.O. Scott (The New York Times) writes, "Ms. Hayek and Mr. Molina are both wonderfully charismatic, but their scenes of recrimination and reconciliation have a dull, actorly flavor that makes the characters seem smaller than life.
Marghola Dargis (Los Angeles Times) agrees that it "ticks off Kahlo's lifetime milestones with the dutiful precision of a tax accountant. But it fails to get at the ferocity of the artist and her artifice, to get at the core of a woman who painted a self-portrait in which she gives birth to her adult self, as if she were both Zeus and Diana." She describes the film as a "meticulously mounted, exasperatingly well-behaved film."from Film Forum, 11/07/02
Kahlo is played by Salma Hayek in a spirited, feisty performance which is matched, perhaps even surpassed, by the marvelous Alfred Molina as Diego. While viewers should be cautioned that director Julie Taymor portrays their promiscuous, reckless, amoral lifestyles unflinchingly, the lesson of the tale emphasizes the value of marital fidelity and the healing power of forgiveness. In fact,
Mike Hertenstein (Cornerstone) says, "The irresistible challenge in making films about artists is to convey something of the visual style of the artist in the film: here, bright colors and dream sequences and visions help give life to Frida's work, but the translation from simple, iconic forms to three dimensions enforces a literalization and conventional narrative that in some ways works against the power of the original work. Still, this is an engaging biopic that tells a story which would be unbelievable if it were fiction."
Gerri Pare (Catholic News) writes, "The film celebrates Frida's life's struggle without judging her promiscuity or bisexuality. This is troubling, yet what clearly emerges is how harmful marital infidelity was to both Frida and Diego. In showing the unhappy consequences of adultery, the movie offers a cautionary note and suggests that the old chestnut that artists are not bound by traditional morality doesn't mean they won't suffer as a result."
Paul Bicking says the film "gives insight to the surrealistic images in [Kahlo's] works. Art lovers will undoubtedly embrace Hayek's performance." But he calls the graphic representation of Kahlo's sexual infidelities unfortunate.