MAPPLETHORPE: THE MOVIE

A nuanced portrait of an artist at the height of his craft.

BY VICTOR MELAMED

The story of legendary gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe will be the subject of the upcoming biopic Mapplethorpe, reports Rolling Stone.

Dr. Who and The Crown actor Matt Smith portrays the photographer in the Ondi Timoner directed biopic that chronicles his sexual and artistic awakening in New York City of the seventies and eighties, as well as his friendship with rock legend Patti Smith, up to his untimely death from AIDS in 1989.

“Photography, it’s about light, it’s about composition, it’s about the personality of the subject,” Smith’s Mapplethorpe says in voiceover. “I’m an artist. I would have been a painter but the camera was invented.”

Mapplethorpe’s work displayed eroticism in a way that had never been examined nor displayed before to the public.

 “The film depicts Mapplethorpe’s life from moments before he and Patti Smith moved into the famed Chelsea hotel, home to a world of bohemian chic. Here, he begins photographing its inhabitants and his newfound circle of friends including artists and musicians, socialites, film stars, and members of the S&M underground. Mapplethorpe’s work displayed eroticism in a way that had never been examined nor displayed before to the public,” the film’s synopsis states.

“Exploring the intersection of his art, his sexuality and his struggle for mainstream recognition, Mapplethorpe 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.”

Marianne Rendon portrays the Horses singer in Mapplethorpe, with John Benjamin Hickey (as the photographer’s benefactor Sam Wagstaff), Brian Stokes Mitchell, McKinley Belcher III and Carolyn McCormick also in the cast. 

Following its premiere last month at the Tribeca Film Festival, Mapplethorpe opens nationwide March 1st, 2019.