Final Portrait

FINAL PORTRAIT, US, 2017.  Starring Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer, Clemence Poesy, Tony Shalhoub, Sylvie Testud. Directed by Stanley Tucci. 90 minutes.  Rated M (Mature themes, coarse language and nudity).

Final Portrait is a brief film about artist and sculptor, Alberto Giacometti, living and working in Paris in the middle of the 1960s. Much of the film is confined to his studio, his workspace, living quarters, upstairs storage and the workshop for his associate, Diego.

The film was directed by noted American actor, Stanley Tucci, his previous films in direction included The Big Night, Imposters, Joe Gould’s Secret. Tucci does not appear in this film but his friend and collaborator, Tony Shalhoub, portrays Giacometti’s assistant.

The screenplay is based on a memoir by an American, Jim Lord, who encountered Giacometti in Paris and was persuaded to remain there to pose for a portrait, taking a far longer time than Lord anticipated, but Lord agreeing to remain, fascinated by the work of the artist as well as his continually scrapping the work he had done, beginning afresh, seemingly dissatisfied, but finally producing a portrait.

This makes much of the film a two-hander, conversations between Lord and the artist, the sequences where Lord poses, is momentarily distracted, arouses Giacometti’s ire…

Geoffrey Rush is obviously enjoying his interpretation of Giacometti, Moody, artistic in every way, a perfectionist always dissatisfied, working on his sketches, on his paintings, his sculptures – with the audience having the opportunity to view many of these as the camera roams around his studio.

Armie Hammer is Jim Lord, a well-to-do American, interested in the artist’s work – and later writing about him.

There are some complications in Giacometti’s personal life, his relationship with his wife, played by Sylvie Testud, loving her husband but also tempted to other relationships. Giacometti is not only tempted but is in a long-term relationship with a local prostitute, Clemence Poesy, who operates from a local club, is unembarrassed in her relationship with the artist, easily cavorting and canoodling with him at the club, letting him buy her an expensive car…

So, the film itself is also a portrait, a kind of final portrait not only of Jim Lord but of Giacometti himself and his artistic achievements.

Transmission films                                     Released September 28th

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

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