Art is life?
Basquait is an average story, done in an interesting way. We follow the life of burgeoning artist Jean Michel Basquiat, from origins in simple graffiti to his paintings hanging in art galleries. The film is populated with such name actors as Dennis Hopper, Parker Posey, David Bowie, Claire Forlani, Willem Dafoe, Benicio Del Toro, and Christopher Walken.
I call it an average story, but that's not really a measure of a film, but how someone might relate to it. The plot doesn't surprise much, and given that it's based on a real story, there isn't that much liberty to pump it up. The tale of an often misunderstood artist is executed well enough, but on its own, is not that unique or inventive.
Where the film gets interesting is, appropriately enough, in its own artistic sense. Audio and visual elements are introduced at various times to give us an idea on how Jean Michel perceives the world. These elements are in a grungy, sixties-throwback sort of approach, as opposed to what we see in the Caveman's Valentine, which is a similar concept, but much more stylized and I dare say, accessible.
But it's the accessibility of the artist most in question here. It would be a mistake to suppose an interesting artist's influences are going to be easily understood. In keeping these artistic elements on edge is both the more interesting choice, and the right one for this film.
Yet, is this enough to offset the relatively bland nature of the story? To a degree, yes, but we never quite get close enough to Jean Michele to feel like we understand the struggle. Missing two out of these three appeals to the senses (let's call them artistic, intellectual and emotional), we are left with an entertaining, but unfulfilling experience.
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