A clever biography written and directed by Stanley Tucci, Final Portrait delivers a humorous, adept and dark glimpse into the life and mind of Swiss painter, sculptor and printmaker, Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush).
The film tells of the real life instance where the artist invited American critic and writer James Lord (Armie Hammer) to sit for him in Paris in 1964 and is based on the memoirs of Lord himself. What was meant to be a three-hour sitting at most, turned into a drawn out, frustrating but also incredibly interesting process, during which the author came to know Giacometti and his complicated life.
The audience is first introduced to a sullen and silent Giacometti in his dim, cluttered workshop, surrounded by his sculptures as Lord waits for him to get started on his portrait. Rarely seen without a cigarette between his lips and in scenes where he guzzles down wine as if it is water, Giacometti proves to be a troubled man, who, as his brother says, “[can] only be happy when he is desperate and uncomfortable in every part of his life”. He neglects his devoted wife to be with Caroline (Clémence Poésy), his subject and a prostitute, with whom he is infatuated. He emits a disdain for the world around him, slating himself and his own work.
Tucci does an excellent job at retaining humour, while simultaneously evoking a strong sense of hopelessness at the possibility that the portrait may never be finished. With every distraction from the tireless Caroline, every “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” and “I have to stop. We can’t stop!” and with each restarting of Lord’s portrait, the end forces itself out of reach. Lord proves to be Giacometti’s opposite as their strange friendship develops, countering his mood swings and unpredictability with calm and nerve.
Coupled with Rush’s excellent depiction of the sculptor, capturing his hunched, ragged appearance and disdain, Final Portrait is eloquently put together and draws on the loose, free roaming camera work and visual aesthetic to create a gloomy backdrop reflecting Giacometti’s gloomy mind.
Final Portrait is released in selected cinemas on 18th August 2017.
Watch the trailer for Final Portrait here: