Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Final Portrait (2017)

Films exploring the challenges of the creative process of other artistic mediums can be a challenge in themselves, the challenge being how to explore that process without having characters just sitting at their typewriters or canvasses, scowling, swearing, and smoking endless cigarettes.

The Final Portrait fails in this respect, and is not helped by a showy, distracting turn by Geoffrey Rush as famed artist Alberto Giacometti, and a bland and forgettable performance by Armie Hammer as real-life writer and art scholar James Lord.

The story revolves around Giacometti offering to paint a portrait of Lord, something that should only take an afternoon, but ends up dragging on for over a fortnight. With each day, Lord gets dragged further into the artist's world and the people in it, such as his brother Diego Giacometti, and his long-suffering wife Annette.

Unfortunately, writer/director Stanley Tucci gives us no insight into why Giacometti is so utterly obsessed with painting Lord and why Lord puts up with the constant delays, which come at great expense and inconvenience to himself.

Instead, we get some heavy-handed characterisation showing Giacometti drinking, cavorting with a prostitute, unsure and uncaring as to where to hide a huge pile of money, and repeatedly shouting "Ow Faaaak" at the canvas as his latest attempt to paint Lord runs into trouble. We get it. He's an artist. He doesn't care about money or other people's feelings. He can't make his mind up about his art. As to why any of this is the case, no idea.

Having said that, the film looks great, and while the characters are not convincing, the boozy, shabby chic world of 1960s Bohemian Paris that they live in most definitely is.