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Produced by Eliza Dushku, Nate Dushku and Ondi Timoner. Directed by Ondi Timoner. Written by Mikko Alanne and Ondi Timoner. Starring Matt Smith.
What's the story about?
Robert Mapplethorpe (played by the brilliant Matt Smith), an iconic photographer, celebrated form in a range of subjects, from flowers to S&M. He electrified the contemporary art world and immortalized a generation of artists and gay men lost to AIDS.
At 18 years old, Robert drops out of art school in Brooklyn. He meets Patti, and together, as best friends and lovers, they move to Manhattan into the Chelsea hotel, a hotbed of late 60s pop culture. Here Robert discovers the camera as a powerful tool in his journey to fame and immortality. Recognizing his attraction to men, Patti leaves Robert, who fervently plunges into New York’s underground gay scene pursuing his career alongside his burgeoning sexuality.
Robert’s photographs prove too controversial for most everyone except Sam Wagstaff, a sophisticated collector who has an eye for both Robert and his work. In Sam, Robert finds both a father figure and the love of his life. Through their relationship and Sam’s patronage, his photography flourishes. Soon, no one can say they have “made it” without visiting Mapplethorpe’s studio for a portrait.
But his penchant for sex and single minded drive lands him alone in the midst of his long desired fame, except for the loyalty of his younger brother, faithful assistant and aspiring photographer, Edward. AIDS ravages Robert’s world, taking his beloved Sam and so many others. In 1989, at only 42, Robert is also taken as he creates beauty and art.