Mapplethorpe (2019)


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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.


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 (16) | Top Critics (5)

This zoetrope-esque blurring ultimately lends Mapplethorpe its edge, as audiences will feel unable to tear themselves away from its protagonist's lavish self-destruction.

May 8, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Smith's performance hints at tightly coiled depths that the movie skates by, and his character becomes easier to resent even when he begins to get sick.

Apr 24, 2018 | Rating: D+ | Full Review…

The major thing that Mapplethorpe has in its favor is that the film is afraid of neither the life nor the work of the notorious photographer.

Apr 24, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

[Smith's] work, sadly, is continuously undermined by everything surrounding him, beginning with a script, written by Timoner and Mikko Alanne, that frustratingly sticks to the then-this-happened conventions of a standard biopic.

Apr 24, 2018 | Full Review…

To her credit, Timoner doesn't shy away from the hardcore bits...but neither does she capture what made the radical photographer tick.

Apr 23, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

It's gorgeously shot in a grainy style that seamlessly mixes with period footage.

Jan 23, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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