Final Portrait

Watched: 21 January

A low-key, unassuming film by Stanley Tucci about the Swiss-Italian artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush), set in a Paris that has been bled of much of its colour. Our way in to Giacometti’s world – principally the basic, backstreet home and studio he shares with his wife Annette (Sylvie Testud), his brother Diego (Tony Shalhoub) and occasionally his lover Caroline (Clémence Poésy) – is via the American art critic James Lord, played in a restrained fashion by Armie Hammer; Lord agrees to sit for a portrait that is supposed to take a couple of days but eventually lasts for several weeks – it turns out, as the title suggests, to be the last one made by the artist. I assume that Hammer’s restraint is purely to keep the emphasis on the character of Alberto, whose gregariousness and sudden fits of artistic pique are occasionally rather amusing to watch, even though they signify a restless and ultimately unhappy mind. So the film relies heavily on Rush’s character and his scenery-chewing performance, but I got a kick out of watching it. (***)