Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
This is one of the single best reviews I’ve ever read from Quint, and it both persuaded me to go to a FRIDA screening I was debating skipping and made me laugh out loud like a seal that’s been speared.
Ahoy squirts! The one and only Quint here reporting from the Mill Valley Film Festival to give you folks my opinion on FRIDA, directed by Julie Taymor (TITUS) and starring Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush, Valeria Golino with small cameos by Antonio Banderas and Edward Norton.
The film is, obviously, based on the life of well known artist Frida Kahlo, whose work is instantly recognizable. I had heard of her name and recognized her self portraits before I saw the movie, but knew nothing about her life. So, I went into this film pretty fresh. I honestly was fearing the movie would be a preachy/cynical/suffering artist film.
To my great relief, the focus of the film wasn't on Kahlo's suffering artist persona, but on her life with fellow painter Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina). It's a love story first and foremost. Sure, her life had great impact on her work and we see that impact, but it's not just a moving picture art exhibit. I love the fact that it's really about these two dysfunctional people who fall in love with each others' strengths as well as each others' weaknesses. Frida was crippled in an accident early in life, which turned her onto painting in the first place, and Diego has an insatiable need to screw as many women as he can. Each of them make no apologies about who they are, nor try to hide their weaknesses.
This movie really blew me away. Stylistically it's an amazing achievement. There are certain scenes where you think you're looking at a piece of Kahlo's art, then it subtly moves and you see it's really Salma in some ungodly makeup that makes her look like a painting... it's actually pretty fucking scary, but scary or not it's very affective. The whole film is beautifully shot.
And the performances! This is the performance Salma Hayek will be remembered for. I've always liked Hayek, but this is the first time where I can like her performance for more than her looks, spunk and energy. She shows some real acting ability and thank god she does or this film would have been a miserable failure. I don't know if you folks remember, but Madonna was supposed to play this role. That would have been a catastrophe. Hayek seems to know this is her chance to see what she's made of as an actress and takes full advantage of the character.
Alfred Molina damn near steals the show, though. He's the perfect match for Hayek as Frida. When Frida and Diego are on screen, there's some of that great chemistry and magic that happens when you put the two perfect people together and they start breathing their characters. Molina is there to support Hayek and vice versa. They fit perfectly together.
I know Miramax is going to pushing this one pretty big come Award time and I hope they don't fuck over Molina like they did Tom Wilkinson for IN THE BEDROOM, ignore him in favor of pushing for the lead actress. Hayek, like Sissy Spacek in IN THE BEDROOM, deserves a lot of credit and should be pushed come award time, but Molina's work in this film is too good to overlook in favor of pushing the bigger name.
Geoffrey Rush is almost unrecognizable in this film as Leon Trotsky, a political target who befriends Diego and Frida. He has a small role, but he runs with it for all he's worth. Banderas just has one scene, really just a cameo, so I don't really need to comment on his talent in this film. He's there, he's good, but his character isn't really important or cause anything important to happen. Ed Norton, who also isn't in the movie for too long, does well as Nelson Rockefeller and is a bit more important character in the scheme of things. All the cast is great, supporting included.
I'm really curious to see if Miramax gets behind this film or if they'll choose GANGS OF NEW YORK to represent the company around Oscar time. FRIDA is without a doubt the best Miramax movie to come out so far this year, but I'm dying to see if GANGS OF NEW YORK is as good as it looks to be. We'll see, won't we?
All in all, this movie is fantastic. If you like period films at all... Hell, if you like good movies, do yourself a favor and see this one. If all the above hasn't convinced you to see this movie, then I can only think of one more thing I haven't brought up yet: Salma Hayek having sex with other pretty women! Boobies! Boobies! If nothing I've said gets through, that might. If it doesn't, then maybe this one's not for you.
I'll be back soon with more coverage of the Mill Valley Film Festival as well as some interviews, hopefully. 'Til that day, this is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu.