Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo doesn’t sound so bad when you consider the other major hopefuls for the part: Jennifer Lopez (eh?) and Madonna (please!). And given that her career has so far included leads in gems such as Fools Rush In and Wild Wild West, Hayek’s turn in Frida is indeed the opportunity of a lifetime. Though I’d really like to report that the Mexican mamacita is an embarrassment to Kahlo’s legacy, the truth is that she does act her ass off here. And when you first see Hayek’s slightly altered face, her resemblance to the artist is striking. Also dead-on is Alfred Molina, a world away from his current dreadful sitcom Bram and Alice, as the robust Diego Rivera, Kahlo’s muralist husband. Indeed, there’s not much about this biopic that isn’t true to all the major events in Kahlo’s life: the bus accident that left her bedridden for months, her marriage to the openly unfaithful Rivera, her affairs with women and later Leon Trotsky (a barely recognizable Geoffrey Rush, made to look crickity and ancient, who beds Kahlo in a very ick moment). Director Julie Taymor imbues the film with vivid color and quirky touches, including paintings that morph to life as Taymor speculates about Kahlo’s moments of inspiration. Minor details of continuity—or lack thereof—prick throughout. Kahlo, for example, occasionally makes mention of “all the operations” and constant pain that were results of her accident but spends large sections of the movie carousing like a frat boy. Though these issues aren’t enough to detract from the overall beauty and technical precision of the film and its players, the jampacked Frida ultimately doesn’t satisfy: You come out of the two-hour film perhaps better educated about the iconic artist, but hardly inspired by her story. There’s little passion or sorrow to be found in the script’s hasty dips into Kahlo’s many ups and downs—she finds recognition quickly, she miscarries quickly, and she divorces and remarries Rivera in the bat of an eye. Frida may look impressive on the surface, but on closer inspection you realize that the film is more like a really good paint-by-numbers than a breathtaking original. —Tricia Olszewski