This will be the first of several reviews from this year’s Tribeca film Festival. To follow our coverage, click here.
Synopsis: A look at the life of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe from his rise to fame in the 1970s to his untimely death in 1989. (IMDB)
Starring: Matt Smith, Marianne Rendón, and John Benjamin Hickey
Writers: Mikko Alanne and Ondi Timoner
Director: Ondi Timoner
Running Time: 95mins
It’s hard to not see Matt Smith as the eleventh doctor on Doctor Who but he’s working to change that, first with The Crown (which I haven’t seen) and this new film, Mapplethorpe, based on the life of the famed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe who he plays. Its authenticity of its depiction of Mapplethorpe is up for debate (I’m not exactly the authority on Mapplethorpe), nothing should come as a surprise to those who do. The story is straightforward and doesn’t stray from the standard biopic formula.
There were plenty of ups and downs with a few interesting characters along the way, including his girlfriend Patti Smith (Rendón) and his older lover and former benefactor Sam Wagstaff (Hickey), but the constant was Mapplethorpe. His rise and fall was compelling to watch thanks to Smith’s courageous performance which saw him run the gamut as Mapplethorpe. He also showed decent range during his character’s transformation over the course of the film.
Overall, this was a good biopic that doesn’t stray from the standard biopic formula but is kept engaging by a courageous performance by Matt Smith, further distancing himself from Doctor Who although it’s still hard not to see him as the eleventh doctor.