This is the first dramatic telling of Mapplethorpe's life, and the first narrative feature from director Ondi Timoner, the only two-time winner of Sundance's Grand Jury Prize for documentary. The film begins with college dropout Mapplethorpe living a New York bohemian life in the Chelsea Hotel with his girlfriend the eventual punk icon Patti Smith (his one and final opposite sex relationship). From there Mapplethorpe, played by Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown), first dabbled, then waded and finally dived in to New York's gay scene. His art progresses from collages to Polaroid sex photos (sold to discreet patrons) to his later gorgeous, pristine and infamous fine photography. These defining artworks were obsessed on the one hand with gay eroticism and on the other with stark formal beauty. Mapplethorpe's life and work coincided with the arrival of HIV/AIDS, which claimed both his own life in 1989 as well as the lives of many who sat for his portraits. This film for the first time tells the story of the man behind the art and the controversy.
"Matt Smith's portrayal of the mercurial, brooding genius is nearly as provocative as Robert Mapplethorpe's famous photograph 'Calla Lilly', elevating the film."-Leslie Combemale, Cinema Siren