Final Portrait (15)
Director- Stanley Tucci
From IMDB: In 1964, while on a short trip to Paris, the American writer and art-lover James Lord (Armie Hammer) is asked by his friend, the world-renowned artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush), to sit for a portrait. The process, Giacometti assures Lord, will take only a few days. Flattered and intrigued, Lord agrees. So begins not only the story of an offbeat friendship, but, seen through the eyes of Lord, an insight into the beauty, frustration, profundity and, at times, downright chaos of the artistic process. FINAL PORTRAIT is a portrait of a genius, and of a friendship between two men who are utterly different, yet increasingly bonded through a single, ever-evolving act of creativity. It is a film which shines a light on the artistic process itself, by turns exhilarating, exasperating and bewildering, questioning whether the gift of a great artist is a blessing or a curse.
Being set in Paris in the 60s, the film oozes charm and romantic beauty. The palate from Giacometti’s work transcends to the screen in a way that is reminiscent of Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, Her Wife and Her Lover. At so many points during the film, I could have paused it and made a print to hang on a wall.
The script is charming, unrelenting and brutally real. Both Hammer and Rush, along with Shalloub, have brilliant chemistry and comic timing. It’s subtle humour that doesn’t detract from the drama.
Rush, I’m told, is an uncanny representation of the late artist. For that, I’m yet to be able to confirm. However, it is an amazing performance from the man. His movements, mannerism and misery are all consuming in the performance. From the moment he appears, to the walks in the grave yard (High Gate Cemetery I predict, as it was said that it was all filmed in London) he is the epitome of a tortured artist.
The music is an uplifting reprieve from the heavy drama as Lord starts sitting for his portrait. It’s light, it’s the definition of French culture and has me begging for an original soundtrack in my audio collection as soon as physically possible.
While Stanley Tucci is without a doubt an amazing director; this is his 5th outing behind the camera, it is the first time he’s not graced the screen. It really is a shame to not see him on the silver screen.
Hammer’s frustration at the artist’s process is magnificent. Playing Lord as someone who cares about reputation and making connections, you can clearly see his patience being kept at bay for as long as possible.
It’s divine to see the methods he comes up with to combat the mental and physical issues that come with sitting for a portrait, days on end. It leads to some beautiful conversations with other characters and the pay off in the final act is a work of art (no pun intended).
The Ugly (Truth)
Being a biopic, it’s a raw, dramatic and, at times, a cruel life of a talented, yet tortured artist.
Both women in the film are treated unrelentingly badly. His wife is kept at a distance, watching Giacometti have a long-standing affair with a prostitute. Even the wife’s wish to go to an artist’s gala opening is overshadowed by the purchase of a car for the lover.
It’s heart breaking. Neither woman has a fulfilling relationship with the man; even Giacometti’s exchange with his lover’s pimp shows he doesn’t truly love her. He’d pay ten times the fee set in the negotiation, but he won’t buy her out of prostitution.