'Final Portrait' has stagey action

'Portrait' centers on the creation of an artistic depiction of writer James Lord that is created by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Armie Hammer (l.) and Geoffrey Rush in 'Final Portrait.'

The famed Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti gets the nutty genius treatment in writer-director Stanley Tucci’s “Final Portrait,” starring Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer and based on the memoir by Giacometti’s American writer friend, James Lord. Known for his sculptures of rail-thin, sensually elongated people, Giacometti was also an accomplished painter. Set in 1964, the movie is primarily about how Lord, about to fly back to New York from Paris, agrees to sit for his portrait, expecting the job would be finished in a few hours or days at most. He ends up posing for quite a bit longer as Giacometti obsessively fudges and smudges his handiwork.

The film’s inexplicably grayish palette doesn’t do the artist or the artwork any favors, and the action, which mostly takes place in Giacometti’s plaster sculpture-strewn studio, is stagey. Hammer is rather bland, which he tends to be when he’s not playing edgy swellheads (as in “The Social Network”), but Rush masticates the scenery with a high degree of expertise. After all, he's played nutty geniuses and eccentrics before (Albert Einstein, Peter Sellers, David Helfgott in "Shine"). In a supporting role as Giacometti’s beleaguered wife, who endures her husband’s penchant for prostitutes, the great, undervalued French actress Sylvie Testud strikes the film’s most resonant note. Grade: C+ (Rated R for language, some sexual references, and nudity.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'Final Portrait' has stagey action
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today