Hayek displays native talent in ‘Frida’

Elissa Vallano

“Salma Hayek is the only actress who could portray one of the most fascinating women of the 20th century. She gives the performance of her career.”Jeffrey Lyons, NBC-TV

The movie “Frida” chronicles the life of Frida Kahlo (played by Salma Hayek), a bold Mexican painter who was a political, artistic, and sexual revolutionary. She married world-renowned artist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), and the two took the art world by storm.

Her dramatic work consisted mainly of self-portraits, although she did paint her family and friends on occasion. Impressively, Frida never had any kind of formal art training, but she eventually came to inspire some of the greatest artists in history: Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, painter Pablo Picasso and novelist Andre Breton. Among her many connections were also political ties to Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush) and the Rockefeller family (Edward Norton plays Nelson Rockefeller).

A tragic bus accident in 1925 changed Frida’s life forever. As a result of a riding accident with her best friend David Alfaro Siqueiros (Antonio Banderas), Frida was found half-naked among the wreckage, soaked in blood and gold dust, and impaled on a metal rod. Her spinal column, ribs, pelvis and collarbone were shattered, along with her right foot completely crushed. Her right leg, which was crippled when she contracted polio at age 7, was broken in a dozen places. The metal rod went completely through her abdominal region, leaving her unable to have children.

The stormy marriage to Rivera deeply affected Frida’s outlook on life, provoking her to fearlessly explore her own bisexuality. All of the hardships that plagued Frida during her life resulted in the drug and alcohol abuse that tragically ended it.

The highlight of this movie is undoubtedly Salma Hayek’s breathtaking performance as Frida Kahlo. Hayek defiantly proves her worth and talent in a field that too often ignores the unique approaches of different races that are taken to an otherwise cookie-cutter role played mostly by Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon.

Hayek goes native for her role as the Mexican painter, but it is a mystery why she isn’t a more highly coveted actress. Sure, “Fools Rush In” was an amusing movie, but it surely wasn’t the showcase for Hayek’s potential. Bit parts in “54,” “Dogma” and “Traffic” didn’t seal the deal for her either. But for anyone who couldn’t look past Hayek’s stunning beauty, “Frida” will allow the world to see her in a whole new light. Alfred Molina and Antonio Banderas also prove themselves in their roles, and Hayek’s and Molina’s chemistry brings new life to the romance of Kahlo and Rivera.

The movie is beautiful, with artistic cinematography that breathes life into Kahlo’s story, and provides a visually engrossing medium for director Julie Taymor. If you see “Frida,” it will open your eyes to Salma Hayek’s hidden ability as an actress, as well as educate you on the controversial and inspiring life of Frida Kahlo.