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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is a graphic and explicit rendering of the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek), and in particular, her rocky relationship with fellow artist and husband Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina). There is a lot sex shown between the couple and with their various alternate lovers, including women with whom both Frida and Diego cheat. The atmosphere of almost every scene is charged with either sexual or violent tension, or both. When Frida suffers a miscarriage, the fetus is shown preserved in formaldehyde while she sketches it into a painting. The couple's affiliation with socialist ideologues, especially Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush), brings violence to the forefront -- from barroom brawls to attempted assassinations. Celebration scenes are marked by the presence of copious alcohol consumption, and near the end of her life, Frida is shown to become dependent on various pain medications due to complications from injuries received in a bus accident earlier in her life. The film glorifies Frida and Diego as important artists, while it also shows the misery that they endured.
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What's the story?
FRIDA is a vivid cinematic rendering of the life of artist Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek). Dying at 47, Frida's life was one filled with tragedy and turmoil far beyond her years. While undoubtedly helping to fuel her passion for painting, her relationship with fellow artist, husband, and sometimes mentor Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) is portrayed as tortuous on many levels -- most prominently his inability to commit to a monogamous relationship. Of course, Frida is shown to follow his lead with both extramarital female partners and male partners, including Soviet political exile Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush).
Is it any good?
The time period of Frida's life is one of great political strife and revolutionary ideals in Mexico, and the film seethes with the fervor of unrest. Her artwork is vividly woven into the film through digital transitions that seem to bring her paintings to life at times, or else incorporate her visual motifs into powerful dream sequences. While it will captivate any viewer with even a passing interest in understanding the fevered lives of such great artists, the film does have one fairly substantial flaw.
For as much as Frida's tribulations are presented, Hayek is just too effervescent to be convincingly debilitated through most of the film. While in the end -- when her infirmities finally catch up to her -- her demise is still believable, until then, it can be rather easy to forget the physical maladies that played such an integral role in forging the character of Frida's work.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether an artist must live a tortured life to make important art. Are artists always so strongly principled when it comes to their politics? Why were politics so important in this era of Mexican history? Why does Frida enter into a marriage with Diego despite knowing his horrible record of infidelity? How can Diego remain unapologetic regarding his behavior, and does his behavior justify Frida's own infidelities?
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