Frida Movie Review

This documentary shows that Frida Kahlo should be a household name among painters, especially in the column of Surrealism, but she isn’t. Why is that? She was a woman when she was at her most raw, uninhibited, and… best. It’s that simple. This documentary is about how she got started and what she went through along the path to being one of the best painters ever. ​

She left a valuable “Illustrated Diary” for us to know her in the form of letters, essays, print interviews, and the paintings themselves. In her own words, narrated by Fernanda Echevarría, you hear it all. The filmmaker had access to a treasure trove of information.


Early in the film, she says she found it hard to believe that “Stains of color can come to life and help one live.” Mexico was her universe, and you see a lot of it in her work: birds, beautiful scenery, and, of course, she herself. Throughout this film, her process will become vivid to you.

She only painted her “honest expression” to say what she couldn’t in any other way. Old photos and videos are used to tell her story, but I have to say, she never seemed to have a problem with how she felt. Painting wasn’t the only way she expressed herself. If she had something to say, she’d say it. This shows a powerful woman, never afraid to tell you who she was or what she thought about something. Still, for some reason, she saw herself as something different. She liked to dress as a boy, hang out with the boys and was bisexual. She loved willingly and often but she distrusted and disliked with just as much passion. She was an activist, leading her to meet people she loved most and who had the most influence on her.


This beautiful, loving documentary shows her at her most vulnerable. This is shown in real photos and videos, but in her paintings, as well. Her strength and keen eye shines through with even more intensity in photos. She appears to be looking straight through you.


Her mother was religious; she was not. She didn’t understand why people want to “Dedicate oneself more to God.” She had to stifle her laughing when people prayed to a God that was born to a virgin. None of that made sense if what she had been told about life was true. She was thrown out of mass for spoiling it for the other children. Deciphering the world was a game.


She was more like her father, who was a photographer. There’s an image of him standing by his massive camera. She was intrigued by what he did and that he was an atheist, which fascinated her. He read books on science and history. She wanted to be like him, following him when he painted landscapes with his watercolors and oils. He had a box in which he kept his supplies. She “really wanted that box.” The movie goes into what each color meant to her. I found the Mexican Red’s meaning, the “Old blood of the Prickly Pear,” curious.


When she went to the National Preparatory School, initially wanting to be a doctor, girls would call her strange. Drawn to men who were like her, and probably her father, she joined a club called “The Cachuchas.” There’s a blurry photo of her with them. Her classmates said she was rebellious, which is what they liked about her. Here, director Carla Gutierrez sometimes shows photos with only Frida in color, so she stands out.


Her boyfriend was Alejandro Arias. He was intelligent and he also protested against wrongdoings. She wanted to have sex with him, but he preferred to romance her first. When this is said, words from her writings are pulled from the book in deep red. Clearly, this is used to make you pay attention to who she was. Don’t miss this! In 1925, she and Alejandro were on a bus that crashed with a trolley. She was severely injured, described here very well, and was never the same.


This explains one of her most captivating paintings, “The Broken Column,” in which her body is covered in pins and wraps. There’s also an opening all along her body, her spine showing but clearly no longer a spine but a track. It’s completely fascinating to look at. She says of the accident, “It wasn’t violent, but silent. Slow. The handrail went through me like a sword through a bull. It’s a lie that one realized the crash. A lie that one cries.” Until, in the hospital, she thought she had made it through the ordeal unharmed.


She said the crash destroyed her, but “At least Lady Death didn’t take me.” A painting shown here is her healing skeleton atop her sleeping body. “I now inhabit a world of pain.” Frida’s mother developed a device that allowed her to still paint while healing in bed.

We enter the time she meets the famous painter, Diego Rivera. She initially wants to meet him so he can see and interpret her work, but they start dating and eventually marry. This section contains many images, and Frida’s anger emerges. It’s all fun and games at first, but then she sees what the real world is about.


He’s in New York at the most famous museum and in images of her there with him, she looks bored to death. From her book, she says, “He’s a big shit here. High society people lead the most stupid lives. Spout nonsense and brag about their millions.” Diego also had a wandering eye that led to affairs. It isn’t long before she’s back in Mexico.


Concentrating on her work was important because a lot of it is animated. Why just show a still when you can bring it to existence for the viewer? It’s beguiling to see, and you feel as if you know her better watching the way her work is displayed, with expressive graphics and movement springing it to life before your very eyes. It adds so much, especially during some of her most difficult times.


There’s a lot to this documentary, and everyone should watch it. It’s creative, inspiring and a complete joy. I’m so glad that Carla Gutierrez took the time to introduce us to Frida if we were unaware of who the woman was. Undoubtedly, whether you knew her work or not, you did not know all of this. The film’s ending gives us the painting of a deer with Frida’s head replacing that of the deer. This is the perfect way for the piece to conclude. It shows new growth coming from death. She says, “I believe that after my death, I am going to be the biggest piece of caca in this world.” The video of people visiting her art on display would have you believe otherwise.

The research that went into making this film is extraordinary.

It’s hard to fathom how well you’ll know this phenomenal artist by the time it’s over.


Directed by: Carla Gutierrez

Starring: Frida Kahlo, Fernanda Echevarría

Rated: R (Some Language and Nude Artwork)
Run Time:1h 27min
Genres: Documentary, Biography, Animation

Distributed by: Amazon MGM Studios
Production Co: Imagine Documentaries, Time Studios, Storyville Films

Release Date (Theaters): Mar 14, 2024  Limited

Release Date (Streaming on Prime): Mar 14, 2024


Rating contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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