ACCORDING to writer/director Stanley Tucci’s Final Portrait, sitting for a painting in the 1960s is a long, dull, frustrating task – a feeling he has made all too literal for his audience.
While American critic James Lord (Armie Hammer) is in Paris, famous artist and sculptor Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) asks him to sit for a portrait.
The project pitch is that it will take only a couple of days but the tortured artist, who openly enjoys time with prostitutes in front of his wife, smokes like a chimney and displays erratic behaviour, constantly extends the job.
Days turn into two weeks, with Giacometti at times frustratingly starting all over again when he seems to be almost finished.
Lord, who has the patience of a saint, endures the constant extensions which affect his life back home.
One upside to Final Portrait is Tucci’s decision to focus on a small chapter of Giacometti’s life as opposed to taking a sprawling birth through to death approach.
It allows us to enjoy Rush’s performance; he is terrific as usual, while Hammer in the thankless role, blends into the gloomy background.
However, this narrowly focused film aims for character study, but has such a leisurely pace that it barely seems to have any momentum at all.
The storytelling is as static as someone sitting on a stool for hours having their portrait painted; a compact 90-minute running time feels like an eternity.
Without the benefit of consistent humour, this mostly light-hearted film becomes difficult to endure.
Final Portrait (M)
Directed by: Stanley Tucci
Starring: Armie Hammer, Geoffrey Rush, Clmence Posy
Two and a half stars
Review by: Julian Wright
In cinemas now