Basquiat

1996

Basquiat

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

68%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 28

77%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,666
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Basquiat Photos

Movie Info

Jeffrey Wright is superb in this biopic as Jean-Michel Basquiat, the artist who rose from homelessness to fame and fortune, only to die of a drug overdose at age 27. Writer-director Julian Schnabel, who is also an artist, vividly re-creates the 1980s New York art scene from firsthand experience.

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Cast

Jeffrey Wright
as Jean-Michel Basquiat
David Bowie
as Andy Warhol
Dennis Hopper
as Bruno Bischofberger
Gary Oldman
as Albert Milo
Michael Wincott
as Rene Ricard
Claire Forlani
as Gina Cardinale
Benicio Del Toro
as Benny Dalmau
Courtney Love
as Big Pink
Christopher Walken
as The Interviewer
Willem Dafoe
as The Electrician
Parker Posey
as Mary Boone
Elina Löwensohn
as Annina Nosei
Chuck Preiffer
as Tom Kruger
Paul Bartel
as Henry Geldzahler
Tatum O'Neal
as Cynthia Kruger
Chuck Pfeifer
as Tom Kruger
Esther G. Schnabel
as Esther Milo
Jack Schnabel
as Jack Milo
Lola Schnabel
as Jacqueline Milo
Michael Chow
as Himself
Steven Randazzo
as Maitre d' at Ballato's
Michael Badalucco
as Counterman At Deli
Joseph R. Gannascoli
as Guard At Hospital
Hope Clarke
as Matilde
Brian Wright
as Young Jean Michel
Denise Burse
as Mary On TV
Nemo
as Nemo
Leonard Jackson
as Jean Michel's Father
Vladamir Parenago
as Medieval Villager
Dave Shelley
as Photographer
William Seymour
as Mr. Chow's Maître D'
Richard Butler
as Medieval Villager
Joe Glasco
as Medieval Villager
Steven Parenago
as Medieval Villager
Jose Luis Ferrer
as Medieval Villager
Irene Kiss
as Medieval Villager
Richard the Ox
as Medieval Villager
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Critic Reviews for Basquiat

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (9)

Audience Reviews for Basquiat

  • Jul 11, 2012
    Modern artist Jean-Michel Basquiat rises to fame with the help of Andy Warhol. This film bolsters its indie kudos by including cameos from about every actor on the indie scene at the time, including Christopher Walken, Tatum O'Neal, Courtney Love, and Parker Posey. However, though the names in the cast are as good as they get, the film is not. There are so many unanswered questions, like what is it that makes Basquiat's art unique. We see many people praising his work, but the work doesn't speak for itself, like Jackson Pollock for example, and there aren't any moments that allow us to see what cultural or artistic vein Basquiat has tapped into. Thus, his insouciance toward the artistic process reminds me of Thierry Guetta from <i>Exit through the Gift Shop</i>, who emerges from that film looking like a first-class douche. Also, what could a beautiful, seemingly intelligent woman like Gina see in Basquiat? Their courtship and the end of their relationships are glossed over, and it seems like the brilliant Claire Forlani is under-used simply to fill the role of the supportive girlfriend that all films like this are required to have. David Bowie's performance as Andy Warhol is a tired caricature; I longed to see the musician tapped out by Guy Pearce -- let a real actor take the part. Overall, I liked the beginning, the first ten minutes or so, but the rest of the film leaves me knowing nothing new about Basquiat or why I should care. Post-Script: the design of the Diet Pepsi can in the film didn't come out until after the film's events took place.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 20, 2012
    The work of an artist is always more interesting than the artist themself, hence why biopics like Amadeus and Dragon work really well. This is another good one, that keeps the artist at bay and lets his work speak for itself. It's an all-star cast, the pacing is great, and they don't take the easy route of playing the race card. Good film.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 24, 2011
    "Basquiat" is a film comprised of a great cast and great performances, but neither made me feel connected to the characters. Even when the film ended, I remained distant. I can't even recall much of what I watched. Now, I'm sure that the life of the celebrated artist Jean Michel Basquiat was an interesting one; it just deserved to be made into a better film than this.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Nov 16, 2011
    It is a common practice in the film world to explore the lives of painters and artists, particularly those who lived and died by their art. Jean-Michel Basquiat is surely not an exception but rather a most definitive representation of it. He gives life and form to his countless statements through graffitis, shows his messily ecstatic but ultimately epochal visions through his paintings and evokes a new voice of artistic non-conformity by way of his creations. But then, to counter this searing passion prevalent among artists like Basquiat, the film, directed by Julian Schnabel both with an attention to content and a slight delve into the experimental, then puts all of these into a final salvo towards self-destruction. Jeffrey Wright, one of the more impressive character actors of our time, delivers an unrecognizable performance as the title role. For roles like these, stars always have this tendency to either unnecessarily steal scenes or bury the real people they're playing in the afterthought of their very own persona. This is not the case for Jeffrey Wright. As I may describe it, his performance 'took its own form, life and time'. His on-screen rendition of Jean-Michel Basquiat developed not through an obvious 'pen and paper'-bound emotional and psychological metamorphosis but through a more simple approach: Wright, as an actor, preferred not to merely play or portray Basquiat, but to embody him. Although he does not look like the late artist himself, Jeffrey Wright achieved to embrace the role not for the sake of showcasing some superficial acting prowess but to internally channel Basquiat as a human being. This unconscious but fruitful connection between Jeffrey Wright and Jean-Michel Basquiat was particularly enhanced by the fact that Julian Schnabel is also an artist/painter. Considering that the artistic connection is fairly established between Wright, the mythical Basquiat and Schnabel, the film, in effect, has been much more transcendental and relatively honest in its emotional backbone and at the same time, also purer in its artistic merit. The film's cast is great, with supporting roles by Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, a bit of Christopher Walken as his usual patented self playing an interviewer (this therefore completes an unofficial "True Romance" cast reunion), Benicio Del Toro as Basquiat's friend and Willem Dafoe as an electrician. David Bowie is wonderful to behold as Andy Warhol, whose facial resemblance with the enigmatic pop artist himself immensely helped in his portrayal and also added some authentic weight into his performance. Although there were scenes that were too dormant for their own good, the film is quietly successful in almost all levels, specifically on how it was able to lift itself into a higher form of human 'drama' without accidentally spelling it out with an additional 'melo'. "Basquiat", as a biopic, is quite unique in its position. The film does celebrate the short-lived life and genius of Jean-Michel Basquiat but does not overly glorify him. The film shows his bleak self-decline but does not fully capitalize in it to exaggeratedly highlight a drama that is more than the film can swallow. "Basquiat" is urgent in its neutrality as an observer. An observer of a man whose voice was deemed as coming from the gutters but whose art was deemed as a gift. With this middle ground stance, the film, with a great black and white look upon the short and bittersweet life of a "young black painter in a white art world", is an uncommon triumph.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer

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