Frida: A BUST Film Review

by Liz Galvao

In the documentary Frida, the life of Mexican artist and icon Frida Kahlo is told entirely through archival materials, voiceover, and animation. Kahlo’s journals and artwork are the main source materials, supplemented by first-person testimonies from Kahlo’s intimate acquaintances. The effect is that the story of Kahlo’s life is truly told in her own words, if not her own voice. (Actor Fernanda Echevarría del Rivero does a superb job as the voice of Kahlo, her narration crackling with raw emotion and passion.) First-time director Carla Gutiérrez also edited the film, and her confident hand in weaving together the story of Kahlo’s life is obvious throughout. 

At only 87 minutes long, though, the film is unable to delve too intimately into any area of Kahlo’s life. Since the narration is anchored by the content of Kahlo’s journals, holes arise based on which topics she chose to write about while she was alive. Like many diarists, she seemed to write at moments of peak emotion, and those are well captured by the film, but there’s still room for more depth. Kahlo’s entanglements with men and women outside of her marriage to Diego Rivera, for example, are only skimmed over, as are her political beliefs and involvement with the Communist Party. One can’t help but wonder whether this was a deliberate choice designed to make Kahlo more palatable to a broad streaming audience. Still, those viewers who are not familiar with Kahlo’s work or life story will walk away with a strong introduction to the artist. 

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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