The film's direction and script -- co-written by Nava and Anna Thomas -- are spare yet purposeful. At times, Nava and Thomas's work feels a bit clumsy with its jabs at broad cultural stereotypes (fatuous gringo employers, vulgar Mexicans, etc.) and liberal dips into melodrama, but El Norte is also lyrically eloquent, steeped in dreams and visual metaphors that allude to a portentous future for its protagonists.
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Frida Kahlo's (Salma Hayek) first meeting with Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) and her injury in a horrible bus accident set in motion the two major forces behind Frida. Bedridden for months in a full-body cast, the young Frida keeps herself busy--and learns to express her internal passions and pain--through drawing and painting. Falling in with the womanizing Rivera and his bohemian cadre of artists and revolutionaries deepens Frida's commitment to her painting and life with the loyal but philandering muralist. Their art carries them from Mexico to New York and back in the company of such impressive historical figures as David Alfaro Siqueiros (Antonio Banderas), Nelson Rockefeller (Ed Norton), and Leon Trotsky (Geoffery Rush).
Continue reading: Frida Review