Rolling Stone

By Peter Travers
Most movies stress the agony of art (think of Kirk Douglas' Van Gogh in "Lust for Life"). Schnabel's exceptional film honors his friend by showing the act of creation as a natural high.
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Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
The New York art world quickly makes Basquiat a star. His work is good (when you see it in the movie, you can feel why people liked it so much), but his story is better: from a cardboard box to a gallery opening!
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Entertainment Weekly

By Owen Gleiberman
Basquiat is an engrossing spectacle, but by the end, as a zoned-out Basquiat stands regally in a cruising Jeep, we realize that Schnabel has reconfigured his story as a kind of ghostly myth, and that we've never completely seen the man behind it.
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The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

By Rick Groen
Well, the movie suffers slightly from that tendency -- the portrait shows definite signs of airbrushing. But it's rendered with enough intelligence, and performed with sufficient grace, to offer us an occasionally compelling, curiously upbeat look behind the lacquered image and into the complicated self.
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San Francisco Chronicle

By Edward Guthmann
It's smart and good-hearted and boasts an amazingly good score, but the film is limited by the very private nature of the man it portrays.
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TV Guide

Schnabel at least manages to tell a fairly coherent story. The bad news: It's not a very interesting story, and Schnabel doesn't have the chops to make it one by sheer strength of filmmaking prowess.
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By James Berardinelli
According to Schnabel, the movie is intended to celebrate the man's life, not to mourn his death, so Basquiat's last days are not shown. It's one of many miscalculations made by the director, because, when the end credits roll, we're left without a sense of closure.
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USA Today

By Mike Clark
The movie meanders without a rudimentary sense of the dramatic, yet it remains intermittently interesting thanks to a surprisingly voluminous cast of usual suspects from the world of independent cinema. [14 Aug 1996 Pg.09.D]
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Oddly enough, the film scores with Bowie's spellbinding take on the ageing Warhol. Without this comedic but beautiful performance and an offbeat soundtrack, this is little more than wet paint.
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San Francisco Examiner

Schnabel can't decide whether he wants to tell a traditional rise-and-fall morality tale or make an art film. His attempt at telling Basquiat's story straightforwardly collapses under its own banality.
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65 out of 100
Generally favorable reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.