Mapplethorpe

Critics Consensus

Mapplethorpe's conventional biopic approach to a decidedly unconventional artist undermines its efforts to convey the gifts that made its subject special.

31%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 45

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 24
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Movie Info

Robert Mapplethorpe's portraits, images of calla lilies, and chronicles of New York City's underground BDSM scene remain touchstones of 20th-century photography even now, nearly three decades after his death from complications of HIV/AIDS in 1989. Mapplethorpe revisits the titular photographer's legacy, beginning at the moment just before he takes up residence in the Chelsea Hotel. There, Mapplethorpe begins to amass a portfolio of images-and, at the same time, to explore his formerly suppressed attraction to men. But Mapplethorpe's relentless ambition-as he says in one early scene, "I can't just be Mapplethorpe the photographer," fancying himself a "modern Michelangelo"-threatens to tear apart the relationships he cherishes the most. From the early '70s until his untimely death at age 42, the film explores the intersection of his art and his sexuality, his struggle for mainstream recognition, and, looming above it all, the specter of the emerging AIDS crisis. Featuring Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown) and Marianne Rendón, the biopic offers a nuanced portrait of an artist at the height of his craft and of the self-destructive impulses that threaten to undermine it all.

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Cast

Matt Smith (XI)
as Robert Mapplethorpe
Marianne Rendón
as Patti Smith
Brandon Sklenar
as Edward Mapplethorpe
Mark Moses
as Harry Mapplethorpe
Carolyn McCormick
as Joan Mapplethorpe
Tina Benko
as Sandy Daley
Thomas Philip O'Neill
as David Croland
Kerry Butler
as Holly Solomon
Hari Nef
as Tinkerbelle
Mickey O'Hagan
as Tina Summerlin
Karan Oberoi
as Emilio Acquavella
John Bolton
as Harold Jones
Karlee Perez
as Lisa Lyon
Rotimi Paul
as Ken Moody
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Critic Reviews for Mapplethorpe

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (16)

  • How do you hew so close to biopic conventions -a dutiful recitation of this event happened, this fame arrived, that tragedy struck, etc - when you're dealing with an artist whose whole raison d'etre was finding beauty at the extreme edges of things?

    Mar 22, 2019 | Rating: 0/5 | Full Review…
  • If the new biopic "Mapplethorpe" presents this transgressive vision is vivid detail - and it does - that's only because it includes so many of Mapplethorpe's pictures. Everything else in the film is timid and pedestrian.

    Mar 13, 2019 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • There's a way to frame great art and the problematic artists who make it, but "Mapplethorpe" hasn't figured it out.

    Mar 6, 2019 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • It's Mapplethorpe Vanilla.

    Mar 2, 2019 | Full Review…
  • A conventional biopic of renegade photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (a stranded Matt Smith) is a contradiction in terms, the pallid result feeling like an outline for a movie that no one actually made.

    Mar 1, 2019 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • A stunningly drab take on the life and legacy of a photographer who merged pornography with grace, Mapplethorpe doesn't have an artistic signature of its own, so much as a name it doesn't live up to.

    Mar 1, 2019 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Mapplethorpe

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