Frida [2002]

Salma Hayek makes up for many bad movies with her fierce performance in this sumptuous film. Hayek plays the Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo, whose tempestuous life with her unfaithful husband, muralist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), drives the story of Frida. Maverick director Julie Taymor (Titus, the Broadway stage production of The Lion King) pulls out a wealth of gorgeous visuals to capture everything from the horrific bus accident that damaged Kahlo's spine to her and Rivera's trip to New York City, where Rivera's political leanings ruptured a commission from the Rockefeller family. Though the script spends too much time telling us how great Frida's painting is (rather than trusting in the power of the images themselves), Taymor's dynamic energy and Kahlo's forceful personality give Frida genuine emotional impact. The superb cast includes Roger Rees, Valeria Golino, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush, Antonio Banderas, and Edward Norton. --Bret Fetzer

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