Obviously Salma Hayek is brilliant. Except I didn’t know that before I saw this movie. I think she was born to play this role, and it’s a story of a crazy life that needed to be told.
I expected this film to be sad, tragic, even slightly unwatchable, just because of the turbulent nature of Frida Kahlo’s life (and Diego Rivera, for that matter). But Hayek and Alfred Molina, who played Rivera, took the whimsy to heart and made it fun, and of course a little sad when it needed to be. They were violent but not disturbing, wild but not irrational. Their love was passionate but not mysterious. In the context of their beliefs and their talents, it all made sense.
I did like the constant surrealist interludes, like when Frida was recovering from her accident in the hospital, or when they went to America for the first time, or even when she was dying. It all felt very artistic, which is probably how the artist herself may have seen the world. But I do wish that the Spanish-speaking parts (i.e. the scenes in Mexico) were actually in Spanish. I think it would have made a big difference in terms of the couple’s affinity to their home country. But then again, Ashley Judd would have had to speak Spanish, and her fake accent was bad enough (as was Geoffrey Rush’s Russian accent). I’m assuming that was a factor in the decision.
It is fascinating that Frida mostly chose to paint portraits of herself, not out of narcissism, but out of her singular knowledge of herself. She was confident to admit that she was the subject she knew best, and that self-awareness comes out clearly in this great film.