Let's begin with some talk of Julie Taymor. Her and I have a tumultuous relationship. I think her work is inconsistently sophisticated and very poorly edited. I find her to be someone who has never met an idea, image, or theme she didn't love (very neo-Tim Burton, which I detest), and her films tend to feel bloated and spectacular in a way that leaves little room for true storytelling and character-development to shine through. I love her adaptation of Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus," Titus, but despite enjoying some songs in Across the Universe most of her work falls short. Her ambition is to be admired, sure, but she needs to self-edit. I'd like to see her really pull-back on a project.
With all that said, one of the most arresting images I've ever seen on film (hyperbole, I know) is in the first 20 minutes. It's when a young Frida Kahlo (Selma Hayek) is in a train accident with her lover (a very young-looking Diego Luna). The accident happens in slow motion, and it's a montage of stunning moments, but the camera lingers on Frida after the fracas is all over in this shot:
The little flecks of gold flitter down upon her as she lays bloodied and broken, and I can't explain how stunning that is to watch. So despite my misgivings about Taymor when she does an image right, she really does it right.
I'm not sure slogging through the rest of this average paint-by-numbers was worth it though. The music was fantastic, as was the cinematography and Selma Hayek's performance, but other than that it's 122 minutes that I never have to revisit, as the train scene is on youtube!
Grade: C+ (for the score, the camera work, and not being a complete debacle)
And for you to enjoy, the train accident: