Saturday, September 4, 2010

Salma Hayek in Frida

Salma Hayek received her only Oscar nomination to date for playing Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican artist in Julie Taymor's extraordinary independant movie, Frida. I'm quite sure that Hayek had the least chance to win that Oscar as she was really battling out that nomination with Meryl Streep in The Hours. After all, she lost to Nicole Kidman's performance in The Hours.

Frida is an incredibly weird movie: some might loathe its over-the-topness, some might orgasm over how artistic and special it is. Well, I belong to neither of those groups. I enjoyed it very much (it was actually much better than I expected), though I did not get any message out of it. Nevertheless, it was quite interesting as I got to know lots of things about Frida Kahlo's interesting life (for example I never knew that she slept with Trockij). I must say though, I really dislike when communism is showed in a positive light as you just have to check out how many victims it had in this part of Europe (that's why I really despised Reds).

Salma Hayek's performance however certainly suffers from the movie (wheter you consider it great or awful) as it is actually not about Frida, but her spirit and art which is expressed in a very unusual way. I always felt that Julie Taymor's directing is the lead of this movie and the others (including Hayek) only support it and that's not that lucky considering the fact that this is a biopic.

Moreover, Hayek (just like Kidman in The Hours) suffers from a very underwritten version of a character which is full of enourmous opportunities. Instead of this, for the most of the movie, Hayek is in the background, not doing that much. I am sure that had this movie fully focused on the life of Frida, Hayek (because she's a good actress) would have been able to give a much more complex performance.

All the scenes in which she could amaze us, go by so quickly and there's absolutely no emphasis on them, therefore Hayek is never really able to shine. I must tell though, that in the beginning, she's extremely great compared to the rest of her performance. When she says goodbye to her boyfriend, Hayek is really outstanding giving real emotional depth to Frida and by this she gets much closer to the audience. Unfortunately there's nothing else which is worth of that much praise.

Also, the lack of passion in this performance was totally shocking as in my dictionary raging is not equal with passionate. As I said, Hayek totally gets into the background in the middle as there the movie is more about her husband Diego and his work in the USA. Hayek does nothing memorable there.

I hoped that when she gets back to Mexico, Hayek gets more to do, but apart from a very short lesbian sex scene, there's nothing extraordinary about it. It's just like the rest of the performance: dissatisfying, lacking emotional depth. In the scene where Alfred Molina asks her to remarry, she's quite good but it's not even close to the strength of the beginning (which certainly improved her overall achievement).

The question comes to my mind: is this really Salma Hayek's fault? To be perfectly frank, it is mostly director's, but Hayek could have done a bit more. At least she could have made Frida a bit more complex (because she's a quite simplified), but if you don't have much opportunity, how could you?

So to sum up, I saw a performance that did not disappoint me as I did not expect much, but I may even say that it is worth watching because of the very strong early scenes. But don't really expect a very towering achievement.
So what do you think? Any predictions now? Any suggestions for the next reviewed lady? I'll write about the first one you suggest so be quick, because there could be thousands of others before you. :P


Fritz said...

Haven't seen her performane yet but about Reds: I never thought it shows communism in a positive light but instead shows how some people of this era thought it would be the beginning of a new and wonderful world until they realized the reality behind it (as Maureen Stapleton shows in her big speech to Beatty).

joe burns said...

I agree! She was just awful to me, a really bad hollywoodized imitation.

Louis Morgan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MsMag said...

Read my personal rendition of the movie as I feel the contrary of what you have written:

Katharine E. Spencer Kelly said...

I strongly disagree with this assessment of Selma Hayek in the Frida Kahlo biography film. Selma Hayek was outstanding & she deserved to win the Oscar for her performance. The Hour was a dismal movie without redemption in my opinion.
Wonder what Frida Kahlo would have thought of the movie made in her honour. I think she would have appreciated the performances.