Members of the Mexican press who have been privy to test screenings of Julie Taymor's $12m biopic Frida are apparently appalled at the liberties taken in portraying the anguished Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Co-produced by Mexican actress Salma Hayek who plays the painter, the film allegedly shows Frida Kahlo as a kind of superwoman, a far cry from the real artist who was a cripple. "She walks without limping, climbs the Pyramid of the Moon with agility, dances a kind of tango with energy and sensuality and drinks more than any man without the faintest trace of falling under the influence," said Carla Garcia critic with Reforma. Garcia lamented that the film was shot in a palette of colours that were bright, shrill and overwhelming, serving up stereotypical images of Mexico aimed at "gringo" tourists.

The Miramax-handled film is tipped as a possible Cannes participant prior to its October debut in the US and November release in Mexico.

The screenplay, written by Rodrigo Garcia (son of Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and actor Edward Norton, is based on a biography by Hayden Herrera.

Frida stars Hayek, Geoffrey Rush, Ashley Judd, Antonio Banderas, Alfred Molina, Roger Rees, Saffron Burrows, Argentinian actress Mia Maestro and Mexican actors Patricia Reyes Spindola and Diego Luna.

Meanwhile, Taymor, director of the acclaimed Lion King stageplay, hopes next to direct The Grand Delusion, which she co-wrote with Sidney Goldfarb. Based on a novella by Thomas Mann, the drama is set in modern-day New York and India and has a proposed budget of $15-$18m. Whoopi Goldberg is apparently attached to play Kali while Anthony Hopkins has agreed to give voice to the gurus in the film.