Frida (2024) Movie Review: An Artistic Tribute to Kahlo from Kahlo

Frida Kahlo used herself as the subject of many of her paintings because, as she said, “I am the subject that I know best.” And in the new film Frida, the subject tells us about the subject, as acclaimed editor Carla Gutierrez, making her directorial debut, uses Kahlo’s own excerpts from her diary, personal letters, essays, and interviews to tell her story in her own words for the first time. While Frida could be considered a biopic, I view it as of an artistic tribute to Kahlo from Kahlo channeled through Gutierrez and her team. This film is about the life, loves, and work of this powerfully talented and passionate artist.

Buy Frida Kahlo The Masterworks by Roxana Velasquez

In addition to Kahlo’s words, Gutierrez brings the artist’s paintings to life through animating them all throughout the film. And although I have seen many of Kahlo’s paintings in print and in person over the years, these animations helped me experience them in a new way. As they were not only living, but also more directly connected to the circumstances that brought about their creation. This aspect of the film added a layer of context to Kahlo’s works that I did not have previously.

Gutierrez also includes beautiful footage and photographs of Frida Kahlo from her childhood in Mexico, to the horrific trolly crash that changed the course of her life, to more intimate photos of her loves, losses, and lifelong struggles with pain. These intimate images add more richness and depth to the historic aspects of this film.

Frida is mostly in Spanish with English subtitles and all of Kahlo’s words are in Spanish. I think this was a fantastic choice on the part of the filmmaker. If Kahlo’s words had been translated into English, they would not actually be her words, but instead a translation. And with translations, no matter how good, there is always some loss. Keeping her words in the original Spanish, Gutierrez truly worked to keep Kahlo’s intentions and ideas intact.

On top of all of these stunning layers, the beautiful score of Víctor Hernández Stumphauser carries the movements and moments of this film, but does not intrude.

This stunning portrait of this complex woman is absolutely a joy to watch and experience. Whether folks are already a fan of Kahlo’s work or new to her legacy, this film will draw you in and cause you to fall in love with her and all of her complexities, like so many others did.

Frida has a runtime of 87 minutes and is available currently on Prime.

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Darcy Staniforth

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