DVD Review
Frida poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published June 5, 2003
US Release: October 25, 2002

Directed by: Julie Taymor
Starring: Salma Hayek , Geoffrey Rush , Ashley Judd , Antonio Banderas

Running Time: 120 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $25,776,000
Never quite captivates and it doesn?t inform to a legitimate level
To sum up Frida in one word, it?s disappointing. The film never quite captivates and it doesn?t inform to a legitimate level; some of the acting and cinematography keeps it afloat, but even so this is mostly a dull film version of a biography.

Since I heard a rumor that Edward Norton had written the screenplay (only to be denied credit since he?s not in the Writer?s Guild), I was expecting an intelligent story to unfold given his talent as an actor. But as the film was introducing itself what was missing from me was a lack of passion, or more so, the yearning to want to grasp more information about our artist, Frida ? her struggles with her obsession, her accomplishments, and how life interfered.
I knew next to nothing about the artist beforehand and still don?t know a whole lot about her even after the experience of witnessing this story. The film itself is expected to educate its audience and make moviegoers aware of an art form that is breathing with life today but may not be completely understood beneath the surface. I was anticipating Frida?s lifestyle and work ethics, ready to analyze the details and become enthralled by the structure of the premise. What I got in return was pretty close to a boring production that mixed in too many clich? notes, as well as failing to capture the true spirit of the main character?s profession.

We?re given a story that follows Frida?s life and the love predicaments that soon erupt, but when it comes to interpreting its subject matter ? the art ? the production comes across as if it?s attempting to say "something" and never follows through. Rather than showcasing the art form as the main character, the script hands over love affairs that shape the plot, trying to create emotional reactions when the art itself should be doing the work.

The film allows incidents to speak directly to the audience when the method should be done subtly. Instead of pinpointing the obvious as the plot points tends to do, why not build the film in the style of art itself? With paintings you observe and try to break the images down into pieces, making sense of what the meaning or purpose is; while we may not get direct solutions, it is the process of deciphering the big picture that creates impact (knowing the truth eliminates wonder).

Like a great horror film we anticipate the unknown because it is quite possibly the most powerful component in terror; if we?re shown the punch line directly it can ruin the suspense; with art it?s the same way ? we want to sit there and observe without knowing for certain.

Despite Salma Hayek?s occasionally forced delivery as Frida, the film is reasonably well acted but I found myself stumbling over the picture?s storytelling approach. I wanted to be swept away by the passion that surrounded Frida?s life, and was only met with bits and pieces of the answer, as rather than telling a story about art the script informs us about our artist?s love life and the clich?s that fell in between.

It?s certainly a good thing to know Hayek didn?t win for Best Actress, but even so Frida as a whole is just disappointingly shallow when it was expected to offer greatness to rather intellectual filmgoers.

DVD Features:
- Salma Hayek Conversation
- Julie Taymor Feature Commentary
- Elliot Goldenthal Selected Commentary
- AFI Julie Taymor Q&A
- Bill Moyer's Julie Taymor Interview
- Chavela Vargas Interview
- The Vision, Design, & Music of Frida
- Salma's Recording Sessions
- Real Locations of Frida's Life & Art
- Portrait of an Artist
- 2 Visual Effects Pieces: "Amoeba Proteus" and "The Brothers Only"
- Frida Kahlo Facts
- The Voice of Lila Downs
- French Language Track
- Spanish Subtitles
- Widescreen

Audio Features:
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Lee's Grade: C+
Lee's Overall Grading: 2976 graded movies
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