"Tucci’s gift for wry humour comes to the fore in this film, as he provides his characters with suitable witty retorts and deadpan observations"
Best known as a versatile character actor, Stanley Tucci has been directing and writing his own features since his debut in 1996 with Big Night. His most recent work is Final Portrait, a loose adaptation of American author James Lord’s biography of Alberto Giacometti.
Giacometti was an eccentric Swiss artist and sculptor who made his studio home in Paris. The film documents weeks spent in 1964 by Lord (Armie Hammer) posing for Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) as he works through a portrait. An enthusiastic fan at first, Lord’s enthusiasm wanes as he battles with the ornery artist, getting wrapped up in Giacometti’s moods, as well as his tormented marriage and frivolous affairs.
Tucci’s gift for wry humour comes to the fore in this film, as he provides his characters with suitable witty retorts and deadpan observations. Rush in particular embodies the role of the temperamental artist with wholehearted relish, holding every scene with himself at the centre. Hammer is charming too, continuing to refuse those romantic roles that are undoubtedly are permanently on offer in his career and instead demonstrating his versatility in passion projects.
However, the film falls into a slight pacing issue towards the third act, where Lord’s boredom from the repetitive nature of his sittings transforms the film. It begins to lose the vibrancy of the earlier scenes, as characters repeat their actions and continue to make the same mistakes. Deliberate? Possibly, but it does risk lulling the audience to the same fate of ennui.
Despite this, it’s visually stylish. As should be the case in artist biopics, Giacometti’s eerie and unique sculptures frame the picture as we learn more about the man behind them. The colour palette is carefully chosen, dulled down until almost monochrome before being enhanced with significant flashes of colour according to the characters in the artist’s life - his wife Anette (Sylvie Testud) in yellow, his mistress Caroline (Clemence Poesy) in red.
Tucci’s Final Portrait has a powerhouse performance by the excellent Geoffrey Rush, and despite a significant drop in pacing, it provides plenty of wit, flourish and heart.