‘Frida’ a living canvas

Nov 202002
Authors: Eric Todd Patton

There has been one female director to win an Academy Award for best director and now I think we have found our second. Julie Taymor, a highly acclaimed musical theater director (“The Lion King; the musical”), has brought the life of pain-stricken artist Frida Kahlo to life by directing it on what seems to be a living canvas.

Frida Kahlo, played by Salma Hayek, suffered from a horrible bus accident while a teenager and was tormented by the pain in her body for the rest of her life. Through the pain in her body she found beauty through sexual liberation, political dreams, unfettered ambition and most of all, through art. The controversial couple of Frida and world-renowned artist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina of “Chocolat”) stormed the world of politics and art, and created one of the most interesting relationships to date. “Frida” chronicles the struggles the famed female artist went though and how as each moment of adversity arose she conquered it by trapping it in her art and made it breathtaking.

Hayek spent the last eight years of her life working to bring this story to the screen and now she has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. She was able to bring the passion of Frida to the very surface and acted the way Frida lived; recklessly and admirably. Hayek will most definitely be nominated in the best actress category this year and it will not be shocking if she wins although she will have hefty competition.

Each performance, even down to the three minutes of screen time given to Antonio Banderas, was magnificent. Ashley Judd (“Kiss the Girls,” “Where the Heart Is”), Alfred Molina, Geoffrery Rush (“Shine”) was fantastic as the Communist supporter Leon Trotsky, Mia Maestro (“Timecode”) and even Hayek’s real life man, Edward Norton as Nelson Rockefeller was amazing. When care like this is put into a film; awards are the outcome. Any of one out of the supporting cast could be nominated and I would not be surprised.

The drive force was undoubtedly Julie Taymor as the director. She accomplished what most filmmaker’s only dream of – uniqueness and actual originality. The style of portraying an artist’s life as a painting through many scenes is, what I do not hesitate to call, genius. The visual aspects, the music she put with it, the sets and camera shots … it all amounts to Taymor being the best up-and-coming film director. She received hardly any recognition for her adaptation of “Titus Andronicus” to the screen with Anthony Hopkins, and if she is overlooked again you have my permission to boycott the Oscars.

Everything that a great film should be this was. Perfect script, fantastic acting, interesting biography, historical culture and music that sweeps you through one emotional scene to the next. It would practically be, credibility suicide, as a critic to make many predictions of Oscar nominations, but I see this receiving nomination for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor (Alfred Molina), Best Director and Best Screenplay. If there are flaws in this movie they are embedded so deep within the brilliance they will be tough to find. They would be buried in the world as art, the world as beauty … the world as Frida Kahlo. A.

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