The life of an uncompromising, iconoclastic artist has never seemed as rote and inevitable as it does in Julie Taymor
an intermittently engaging but wholly ordinary biography that wouldn't be out of place premiering on a basic-cable channel. Ticking off the events in Kahlo's life like a grade-school filmstrip, Frida
's screenplay -- credited to no less than four writers, not including the purported rewrites from Ed Norton
-- is full of clumsy passage-of-time indicators and halting, expository dialogue. Luckily, the performers manage to bring it alive somewhat: Though notably lacking in the kind of mythic swagger Kahlo requires, Salma Hayek
digs into her long-gestating "role of a lifetime" with vigor. Better yet is Alfred Molina
's Diego Rivera, who threatens to swallow the movie whole (both figuratively and literally). To her credit, Taymor attempts to infuse Frida with the kind of broad, expressionistic strokes she lent 2000's Titus -- the movie is nothing if not lush. Cinematographer Rodrigo Pietra renders Mexico as a paradise of reds, blues, and greens, playing up the contrasts between Kahlo's homeland and the steely, blue-gray New York sequences. But however brilliant they often are, Taymor's directorial flourishes are just that, and Frida -- which by all accounts could've been as daring as Vincent and Theo
or Before Night Falls
-- never rises above standard bio-pic fare.