Final Portrait

Paris, 1964. Artist/sculptor Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) invites his American friend, writer James Lord (Armie Hammer), to sit for a portrait. “It will only take a day, at most,” promises the eccentric painter. Lord does not know that Alberto’s time and real time are two very different things when painting the “Final Portrait.”

Laura's Review: B

Robin's Review: B

Writer-director (and occasional actor) Stanley Tucci started his helming career back in 1996 with the memorable, magical “Big Night,” with co-director Campbell Scott, about a very special Italian dinner. Tucci, with “Final Portrait,” shows himself, once again, to be an actor’s director as he gives his small, but superior, cast the chance to excel in their craft. Armie Hammer is the naive American writer-critic visiting Paris for just a short visit, looking forward to having Alberto paint his portrait. Alberto, always distracted and chain smoking, putters about his studio, working on his many in-the-works sculptures while James sits patiently and waits. After all, he is in the company of a genius. Finally, Alberto takes a seat at his easel and begins observing his subject, commenting, “You look like a thug.” James’s reply is “I’m sorry.” A few brush strokes later, Alberto shouts “Aw F***!” and throws down the paintbrush. “Let’s get a drink!” and that is it for the day. “Come back tomorrow” soon becomes Giacometti’s mantra, much to Lord’s chagrin, who is constantly changing his travel plans and rescheduling his return flights home, where a big deadline looms. The promised one day becomes days then weeks as Alberto changes his mind, obliterates what he has done and starts over. James, camera in hand, takes a picture of the work-in-progress each day as he sees a light at the end of the tunnel and his return home, only to see the tunnel collapse because of Alberto’s peculiar, often hedonist, ways. Geoffrey Rush is terrific as the eccentric genius who sees that life revolves around him and others are there for his pleasure, whether it is painting you or going out to dinner. Whatever his whim is the most important thing to Alberto. Armie Hammer, as the straight-laced and very patient James, seems two dimensional, at first, but the slow-burn of impatience and frustration that Lord experiences is well done, especially since, for most of the film, he sits, impassively, posing for the never-ending portrait. The tiny supporting cast includes Sylvie Testud as Alberto’s wife, Annette, who has become used to her husband’s self-centered hedonism and philandering with prostitutes. Tony Shalhoub plays Alberto’s brother and art studio partner, Diego, who understands his sibling’s oddball ways. Clemence Poesy plays Caroline, Alberto’s muse, lover and working girl who flits in and out of his life whenever she wishes. Alberto’s stark, monochromatic art studio dominates the production and gives the film its cool color tones, matching the blacks and grays of the portrait-in-progress. But, it is the actors and the words they speak that is the real pleasure in watching “Final Portrait,” a true collaborative effort by all.

Laura's Score: B