Starring Armie Hammer, Geoffrey Rush, Clémence Poésy, Tony Shalhoub, Sylvie Testud
Stanley Tucci is most known for his memorable supporting characters whether beside Meryl Streep or voicing animated figures with that unmistakable voice. However, Tucci steps behind the camera for the fifth time as writer/director on Final Portrait. He explores the final days of eccentric artistic Alberto Giacometti and his not-too-profound relationship with subject James Lord, a writer and WWII Army vet visiting Paris. Final Portrait is an odd, slow moving film that’s completely character driven. Armie Hammer playing the American is the audience window into the artist’s world. Fans of Call Me By Your Name will be pleased to see Hammer on screen again, and relish the extreme close ups of the actor’s face.
It’s Paris 1964, Alberto Giacometti (Rush) is ridiculously popular, so much so he hides millions all over his studio. He claims his works are never finished, but often is forced to stop for one reason or another. His buddying friendship with American James Lord (Hammer) has finally gotten the tall and handsome man to sit for a portrait. “It should only take 1-2 hours,” Lord says to someone back home. “An afternoon at most”. Lord would remain in Paris for over two weeks as Giacometti worked and re-worked on the painting, sharing his obtuse existence in the process. He refers to one side of Lord’s face as “brute”, the other side “degenerate”. After weeks of sitting perfectly still, Lord must find a way to exit the delicate process without offending.
. The viewing audience for this film is small and the patience to endure 90 minutes of idiosyncratic behavior wains heavy.
Oscar winning actor Rush (Shine) in partial facial prosthetics is allowed to dive into a juicy role with Giacometti. Eccentric doesn’t completely describe the artist who would shout the F word multiple times daily at his work, a signal it was time to take a break or start over. “I’m neurotic,” he admits freely, almost as an excuse. Hammer (J Edgar, Call Me By Your Name), is playing a gay character for a third time, but this isn’t about James Lord. Tucci seems strongly interested in not only the artistry of Giacometti but the psychology of his process. The essence of the movie however is fleeting, the viewer endures 90 minutes of near voyeurism only to exit without gaining a lot from the experience.
This small film doesn’t boast much in the way of cinematography, musical score, even London doubles as Paris with some CGI for budget restraints. The viewing audience for this film is small and the patience to endure 90 minutes of idiosyncratic behavior wains heavy. As artistic biographies go, Final Portrait isn’t a stand out, and to be brutally honest, I haven’t seen or even heard of the other four films directed by Tucci. Rush as usual works wonders with what he is given, Hammer seems true to his character in this one, only cast as a pretty American face.
The Tucci directed drama isn’t the most engaging subject matter or cinematic work.