Stanley Tucci has taken an empty canvas and taken bold and enchantingly humorous strokes of his creative brush on the closing pages of the life of renowned Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti with Final Portrait, adding just a dab of enchanting peculiarity to produce an almost effortless piece of cinema.
Written and directed by the Hunger Games actor, Stanley Tucci, and lead with charming performances from Geoffrey Rush as Giacometti and Armie Hammer as James Lord, an American writer and admirer of the artist who delightedly sat for Giacometti to paint his portrait. This tale focuses on the procrastination’s of eccentricity of the creative mind and the depths of self-depreciation with an airy skip in its unlikely step of youthful friendship.
Taken from Lord’s own memoirs of his time with Giacometti – The story starts with Giacometti dismissively offering to paint Lord’s portrait stating “it’ll only take a couple of hours”. Lord, admiring the work of the overgrown silvery haired genius, would be utterly mad to turn it down. Taking only a couple of hours would fit perfectly into his plans to return to New York, however, a few hours turns into a few days and even weeks as Giacometti meanders through his eccentricity, doubtful in his own ability as he constantly shouts Fuck at the canvas and starting again.
Set mostly in the dishevelled hovel of his own studio, the amount of time Lord and Giacometti spend together obviously builds into an unlikely friendship as the two discuss life and artists that have come before – where Giacometti dismisses the greats. Lord witnesses the obsessive infidelity of the artist right under the nose of his long-suffering wife with a local prostitute Caroline (Clémence Poesy), while his wife Annette (Sylvie Testud) embarks on her own affair in revenge. Gawping in disbelief as Giacometti nonchalantly dismisses the bundles of money he is paid for his pieces by throwing them, without a care, into the dusty midsts of the studio never to be seen again because of his distrust of any bank. Not wanting to seem disrespectful or ungrateful, Fearing he will be there forever, Lord has to find a way to make Giacometti finally finish the portrait – a feat not that easy after he states “a portrait is never finished”.
Rush and Hammer may seem just as an unlikely pairing as Lord and Giacometti but their tender chemistry fits like a glove. The tickling humour and restraint of respect beams through the patient’s of Hammer’s performance whilst Rush, brilliant in almost everything he does, is effortless in his cranky quirky behaviour, portraying a man who goes from blood red lunacy, self-debt, and passive womaniser with ease and believability.
Tucci has an eye for the art-house angles, focusing, on occasion, of the stillness of his characters not visually talking but capping scenes with audio conversations between the men and panning the scene with silent story telling with an entertaining edge. Final Portrait is a stroke of real Tucciness, an affectionate example of blending a palette of the dullest colours to produce a vibrant homage.
Final Portrait is in cinemas August 18th
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Stanley Tucci
STARS: Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer, Clémence Poesy
RUNTIME: 90 Mins