- 1 hr 48 min
The movie Basquiat, released in 1996, is a biographical drama about the life and career of the young artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Directed by Julian Schnabel, himself a successful artist and a friend of Basquiat, the movie captures the vibrant cultural scene of New York City in the 1980s as well as the struggles of a young man trying to make it in the art world. Jeffrey Wright plays the titular character of Basquiat, a street artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent who gains recognition for his graffiti art under the pseudonym SAMO. Basquiat is a charismatic and enigmatic figure who attracts the attention of Andy Warhol, played by David Bowie, and becomes a part of the art world elite. However, Basquiat finds that fame is not all that it's cracked up to be as he struggles with addiction, relationship problems, and the pressure to produce more and more art. The movie also features a cast of talented actors who play the supporting roles of the people who influenced Basquiat's life, such as his father (Michael Wincott), his mentor (Benicio Del Toro), and his girlfriend (Claire Forlani). Basquiat's turbulent relationship with his father, an accountant who disapproved of his son's artistic pursuits, is a recurring theme throughout the movie. In contrast, his friendship with the artist and drug dealer Benny Dalmau (Benicio Del Toro) is both a source of inspiration and a warning of the dangers of addiction. The movie explores the themes of race, identity, and artistic expression in a time when New York City was undergoing rapid change and cultural transformation. Basquiat's exploration of his African American and Latino roots through his art is contrasted with the predominantly white art world and its appreciation of his work. The movie also touches upon the gentrification of the city and the clash between the creative community and the forces of commercialization and conformity. Visually, the movie is a feast for the eyes with its vibrant colors, dynamic camera work, and eclectic soundtrack featuring artists such as Blondie, Iggy Pop, and Public Image Ltd. The use of animation, archival footage, and still photos adds to the immersive and surreal quality of the movie. Basquiat is a powerful and poignant tribute to a talented artist who lived too fast and died too young. Jeffrey Wright delivers a magnetic performance, capturing both the inner turmoil and the artistic genius of Basquiat. The movie does not shy away from the darker aspects of Basquiat's life but also celebrates his talent and his legacy. For fans of Basquiat's art or anyone interested in the cultural scene of New York City in the 1980s, this movie is a must-see.