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Country: USA, Language: English, 102 mins

  • Director: Ondi Timoner
  • Writer: Bruce Goodrich; Ondi Timoner
  • Producer: Sirad Balducci; Eliza Dushku

CGiii Comment

Slight problem...why do a bio-pic when (1) you have to alter facts, (2) a main character [Patti Smith] withheld her endorsement...and, (3) most of the iconic imagery that made Mapplethorpe is missing!

And the 'problems' don't stop there...this Robert Mapplethorpe is downright, left-of-centre, out-of-the-park odious. Not one redeeming fact, in this portrayal, he really does come across as a talentless, narcissistic parasite...played rather well by Matt Smith...who looks nothing like Mapplethorpe.

Now...the interesting thing is that Mapplethorpe has courted controversy for a very long time and will continue to do so...those who hail him as a photographic [pornographic] maestro [aka collectors and sycophants]...will be - by the end - in shock. Those who declare him to be - what he really was - a [shy] pornogapher will be - by the end - in awe! In awe...because, he made an absolute fortune and still commands ridiculous prices for, artsy in-your-face [striking] porn! As for his flowers, pretty as they are...let's face it, any one of us can take a pretty flower picture...the art [and the genius] is getting the 'Art World' to buy into it...Robert Mapplethorpe did just that! Basically...his 'art' was legitimised by being banned...all the porn, petals and portraits were processed and printed by photographic technicians. Were they the true artists!?!

Question...would Mapplethorpe's career been so stratospheric without the [financial] input from [millionaire] Sam Wagstaff?

If he hadn't died...what would he be doing now!?! Still taking risks?

Questions that biographers do their damnedest to answer...alas, not here...or, at least, not satisfactorily...a Mapplethorpe bio-pic needs to be as the subject was...controversial, risk-taking, trail-blazing...tragic.

It matters not what you think of Mapplethorpe's work - love it, loathe will always be and it will always be important. Sadly, this film will leave you loathing the man [and, perhaps, his work too] bio-pics go, this is too safe, too two-dimensional...too scathing! Ondi Timoner spent years struggling to get this film produced...and, the irony is...she could have shown a little more love for her subject as she [obviously] did for the project!

Patti Smith loved him. Sam Wagstaff [and many others] loved him...surely, he wasn't this vile?


The(ir) Blurb...

Matt Smith (“Doctor Who,“The Crown) plays renegade queer artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Set in the gay leather communities and highbrow galleries of New York City in the 70s and 80s, Ondi Timoner’s biopic is an unflinching look at the life and career of the icon made famous for his striking black-and-white images of phalluses and flowers. This film takes a chronological look at the influences and practices that captured male homo-erotic desire so poignantly in the face of the devastating toll of the AIDS crisis.

Cast & Characters

Matt Smith as Robert Mapplethorpe;
Marianne Rendón as Patti Smith;
Mark Moses as Harry Mapplethorpe;
Carolyn McCormick as Joan Mapplethorpe;
John Benjamin Hickey as Sam Wagstaff;
Brian Stokes Mitchell as Father Stack;
Tina Benko as Sandy Daley;
Hari Nef as Tinkerbelle;
Mickey O'Hagan as Tina Summerlin;
Kerry Butler as Holly Solomon;
McKinley Belcher III as Milton Moore;
Karlee Perez as Lisa Lyon;
John Bolton as Harold Jones;
Karan Oberoi as Emilio Acquavella;
Kenya Brome as Second Assistant