In 1964, while on a short trip to Paris, the American writer and art-lover James Lord (Armie Hammer) is asked by his friend, the world-renowned artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush), to sit for a portrait. The process, Giacometti assures Lord, will take only a few days. Flattered and intrigued, Lord agrees. So begins not only the story of an offbeat friendship, but, seen through the eyes of Lord, an insight into the beauty, frustration, profundity and, at times, downright chaos of the artistic process. FINAL PORTRAIT is a portrait of a genius, and of a friendship between two men who are utterly different, yet increasingly bonded through a single, ever-evolving act of creativity. It is a film which shines a light on the artistic process itself, by turns exhilarating, exasperating and bewildering, questioning whether the gift of a great artist is a blessing or a curse.
Alberto Giacometti was born in Borgonovo, now part of the Switzerland municipality of Bregaglia, near the Italian border. He was a descendant of Protestant refugees escaping the inquisition. His brothers Diego and Bruno would go on to become artists as well. "Pointing Man" sold for $126 million, $141.3 million with fees, in Christie's May 11, 2015 Looking Forward to the Past sale in New York, a record for a sculpture at auction. The work had been in the same private collection for 45 years. See more »
Swiss-born painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti was obsessed with the human head and incorporated both surrealism and cubism in his works. Being a perfectionist, he was continuously reworking his own sculptures and paintings, sometimes even destroying them if he was not satisfied with the direction the work was going. This working style is in sharp contrast with the film director's style here: Focusing on Giacometti's portrait of New Yorker James Lord this turns out to be an over clichéd Hollywood version of an art movie. Too neat, too clean, too cautious and basically just painting by numbers. Not only is the storyline very thin, there are only a few moments of inventive storytelling, for example how the adultery is introduced from both angles or how a dinner with Giacometti and his partner with Lord ends.
It all lacks directorial vision and the script is weak, lacking focus and inventiveness. That the basic setup for a movie like this (artist-model) can be interesting was proved some time ago by Rivette in La Belle Noiseuse. The chosen angle here is not that relevant and the movie could have been more interesting by providing tension and character depth, or by focusing on other aspects of Giacometti's life: His connections to Miró, Ernst, or Picasso (the latter only shortly touched upon in a conversation in Père-Lachaise cemetery), his background, or his first unfinished project in New York for Chase Manhattan.
Is it all that bad? As an actor directing here there is one saving grace: The acting. Especially Geoffrey Rush's interpretation of Giacometti is remarkable and Oscar-worthy.
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