Throughout the summer, we’re featuring a movie that someone on our staff has picked as one of their favorite Miramax films. While the summer blockbusters invade the theaters, consider watching one of the staff picks instead. Today’s pick, Frida, is from our video editor, Tom Sawyer. The critically praised film was nominated for six Oscars, winning for Best Music and Makeup.
Frida chronicles the life Frida Kahlo shared unflinchingly and openly with Diego Rivera, as the young couple took the art world by storm. From her complex and enduring relationship with her mentor and husband to her illicit and controversial affair with Leon Trotsky, to her provocative and romantic entanglements with women, Frida Kahlo lived a bold and uncompromising life as a political, artistic, and sexual revolutionary.
I remember seeing Frida when it was released in 2002 and feeling a strong connection to the film. However I couldn’t remember exactly what that connection was based on until I re-watched it over the weekend. And, despite what those of you may think of me and my follicle friendly self, it was more than my deep understanding of what it’s like to be plagued with a uni-brow, that I related to from this award winning film.
As I watched, I was reminded of the masterful direction by Julie Taymor. She seamlessly weaves together a magical world with reality, in such a way that makes horrifying events seem somehow beautiful. [SPOILER ALERT] The trolley crash sequence in particular is so full of color and imagery that the moment Frida is actually injured, caught me by surprise.
Directors are often quoted as saying that the most important part of their process is good casting. As I re-watched the film, I was reminded that I was immediately drawn to the film through the painfully honest work done by the actors in the movie. Alfred Molina in particular has always been a power-house in my opinion, and his portrayal of Diego Rivera is certainly no exception. I’m not sure how he does it, but he has my sympathy throughout the entire story. Even knowing he’s a womanizer, I find myself empathizing with the title character, believing every word he says. Perhaps it’s his delivery on lines like the below, when asked if he can be true to only one woman:
Rivera: “True yes. Faithful, no. Unfortunately I’m physiologically incapable of fidelity. A doctor acquaintance of mine confirmed this. Is fidelity that important to you?”
Frida: “Loyalty is important to me. Can you be loyal?”
Rivera: “To you? Always.”
That’s when it hits me, it’s the humanity of this story that connected me with this film in 2002, and still has me intrigued today. It reminds me that no matter what life throws your way, if you have someone by your side, you can get through anything. And in Frida’s case she had a partner in Diego Rivera as well as a partner in her art.
The one moment that continues to stick with me is when Frida is getting advice from her father. She asks what makes a good marriage and he says, “A short memory.” As a newlywed, I take this advice to heart. However, I think as a movie goer it can be equally important. This same answer can apply when asked what makes a good movie and maybe it’s not one single thing, but a collection of many. Whatever it is, Frida has it. My short memory gave me the opportunity to rediscover this film and for that I am grateful.