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In the space of 2 movies, Julie Taymor has raised herself at the top of my list of favorite directors. She has an acute sense of direction and visualization which i key into very easily. "Titus" was an amazing experience for me when i saw it. I was overwhelmed by the performances, the art direction, the cinematography, and all those wonderful little director's choices sprinkled all over the movie. "Frida" is a repeat. Right from the beginning, you are treated to amazing editing which blends images together in creating new ways. And the bus accident scene, 10mn or so in the movie, is impressive in all respects. There are several images throughout this movie that will stay imprinted in your head for a long time.
This movie is about the life of Frida Khalo (Salma Hayek), who is considered a master of 20th century Art. Her unique visual style and position in history made her an icon. Her mentor, then husband, Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), was equally respected as a master of 20th century Art and had an active political life between the 2 wars.
What fascinated me the most overall was how the Mexican culture, and Frida's art, were woven into the story to reflect what's going on. From scenes with Day Of The Dead dolls, to paintings coming to life and merging visually into the narrative of the movie itself, you constantly are made to go back and forth between reality, how it affects Frida, and how she incorporated it into her art. The cinematography and art direction in this movie are top notch. Some have criticized that this movie is too rich in that respect. I really do not understand this statement as Frida's itself was very bold and rich. I totally agree with Julie Taymor's choice of making the movie look like Frida's art. It feels perfect here.
In other respects, the music got a lot of press (and an Oscar). It captured with great details the mood of the movie. From traditional Mexican music to more modern pieces, the music in this movie is really good.
Performance wise, i found Salma Hayek very good, at least, much better than i would have ever expected of her. She pulls off a great performance here that is uncharacteristic of her previous work. You can see she really loves Frida and invested a lot of herself in this movie. That in itself made me look at her with new found respect. Alfred Molina was wonderful too and i think the jewel of the movie. The rest of the cast is unfortunately uneven. From botched appearances by Ashley Judd and Geoffrey Rush to somewhat irrelevant secondary characters, this was in my opinion the only flaw of the movie.
All in all, this movie was a joy to watch for me. Visually compelling, expertly directed, with a great soundtrack and great main characters and performances, this is one of the best movies i have seen in a while. I will buy it and watch it again with pleasure.
- Laurent Hasson