Here is an intense, nearly painfully reverential movie about Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist who – as this documentary would seem to counsel – has acquired the standing of a contemporary saint. After all, that is actually taking a cue from Kahlo, who employed Mexico’s conventional model of retablo portray to make herself the topic of a self-invented type of non secular iconography, backed up by her tumultuous private life and dogged by unwell well being.
Anybody not significantly conversant in the chronology and element of Kahlo’s life ought to in all probability hunt down the more meat-and-potatoes documentary launched final 12 months; this new movie isn’t aiming to function an introduction to the work a lot as passionately talk what it sees as Kahlo’s way of thinking as portrayed in a sequence of key work. (To this finish, Italian actor Asia Argento has been drafted in to talk eloquent to-camera hyperlinks, endowing Kahlo with some latter-day connection to the #MeToo marketing campaign.) Entry to a few of Kahlo’s private possessions is offered by a lovingly glove-wearing Hilda Trujillo Soto, director of the Casa Azul museum (although I used to be considerably greatly surprised when she began rooting round contained in the casket containing Kahlo’s ashes to show her scarf, positioned there by husband Diego Rivera).
In some methods, this can be a refreshing change from the timeline and speaking heads strategy of your normal visible arts documentary, nevertheless it’s honest to say that this emotionally impressionistic work doesn’t assist itself, muddying the waters because it cuts away to symbolic sequences (woman in white shift costume sprinting alongside an underground tunnel, costumed Aztec dancers doing ritual performances and many others). Nevertheless it does draw collectively key themes in Kahlo’s work: the drama of her bodily ache, her sense of theatre, and her skill to transmute grotesque anatomical element into symbolic structure.