Final Portrait

The search for perfection never ends

Geoffrey Rush makes such a persuasively grotty Alberto Giacometti, it’s hard to tell where the man ends and the ashy stump of his ever-present cigarette begins. Clumping and trudging around his cluttered Paris studio, clay clinging to his clothes and skin, Rush’s rendering of the Swiss painter and sculptor looks a lot like one of Giacometti’s creations – knobbly, stark and narrow-framed, rooted to his unprepossessing lot. 

Poster for the Giacometti bio-drama Final PortraitStanley Tucci’s Final Portrait is a snapshot of three weeks in 1946, during which Giacometti worked on a portrait of the American art critic James Lord, played here by Armie Hammer with gliding, waspy finesse.

Giacometti’s original plan was for a ‘quick sketch’ that would take ‘an afternoon at most’. But, in practice, the project wore on for the best part of a month, as he endlessly reworked the canvas. In the film, it’s as if both men become locked together in a bleakly funny existential farce.

Rush hurls himself into the film’s star turn with cantankerous abandon. It’s a wildly entertaining performance that feels vividly inhabited, both physically and vocally.

As the painting progresses – or rather doesn’t – various Giacometti associates blow in and out of the frame, creating the very specific microclimate in which the artist’s work can spore and sprout. Though the storyline spans a short time, a sparkling appreciation of Giacometti’s life, philosophy and process coheres from its deftly sketched lines.

Tucci’s film, thank goodness, doesn’t concern itself with broad strokes or bigger pictures. It’s a delightful, nimble miniature, as thought-provoking in the long term as it is wryly entertaining in the moment.

– Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

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