Well, it’s more fun than watching paint dry. Probably
Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo
RPL Film Theatre
Continuing the never-ending saga of “Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with Armie Hammer”, here comes an inert biopic that takes advantage of the actor’s good looks and wild streak (the Call Me by Your Name approach) but doesn’t go much deeper.
Final Portrait chronicles the friendship between American writer James Lord (Hammer) and Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush), specifically the period of time it took the artist to sketch Lord’s face for a portrait. The process — expected to take a couple of days at most — went on for weeks.
Initially irritated by the delay, Lord becomes fascinated by the brusque, mercurial Giacometti: The chronic dissatisfaction with his work, his relationships with his doting wife and the manic pixie dream prostitute he considers his muse, and his generosity and pettiness — all demonstrated within seconds of one other. The multihyphenated auteur obsessed over his work, but would drop everything at the drop of a hat to chase sensual gratification.
As amusing as the tableau seems, the anecdote gets repetitive after a while. Rush inhabits the artist with his usual competence (he has a knack for portraying geniuses), but never moves past a collection of loosely connected character traits. James Lord (who ended up writing two Giacometti biographies) also gets the short shrift. His reluctance to return to his heterosexual American life indicates something else is at play, but his secret is never addressed.
Final Portrait is directed by Stanley Tucci, who directed the lively feature Big Night—. Unfortunately it’s more reminiscent of a lesser Woody Allen flick than that notable film. After a while, the gimmick becomes repetitive and the carefully built workshop (a veritable wonder of product design) doesn’t seem as interesting.
Still, if you’re interested in Giacometti, you could do worse.