Are you fond of Armie Hammer? Geoffrey Rush? Swiss Italian artist Alberto Giacometti? Still portraits? Well, then Final Portrait might still not be the movie for you! It might be if you enjoy watching people stare off into space though.
Here is one of those films that the critics praise, audiences barely register, and which makes barely more than nothing at the box office. Domestic box office has nearly reached $300,000! Nobody is paying any real attention to this movie, and to be honest, they don't particularly need to. So, neither do you. Is there any point even in continuing to read this review? Whatever, I'll say a few more things about it just for shits and giggles.
Final Potrait clocks in at all of ninety minutes, and it feels like it's an hour longer than that. Rush and Hammer are serviceable as Giacometti and his young friend James Lord, as is Tony Shaloub as Alberto's apparently live-in artist brother, Diego. The trouble is that Stanley Tucci, as director, doesn't give us a whole lot else to hold onto.
I suppose those who enjoy this movie -- and to be fair, there are one or two -- might cite the chemistry between Rush and Hammer, as Roberto and James develop an odd relationship over the course of about three weeks. At an exhibit, Roberto offers to paint James's portrait, promising that it'll be quick. A couple of hours, one afternoon, tops! But then he drags the process on and on, and on, and on -- all the while somehow duping James into spending a fortune changing his flight home to New York, several times.
Evidently we're meant to think of Roberto's lack of focus, his flightiness, and his obsession with a local prostitute (Clémence Poésy) as charming. I found it all, and especially his stringing James along, a steady process between tedious and annoying. The first time I saw Roberto "undo" days of work by painting over my face with broad gray strokes to start all over, I'd have been like, fuck this shit, I'm out of here.
To be fair, I can't quite say Final Portrait is boring. I'd say it barely stops short of that. This is not exactly a ringing endorsement. It all just goes on way too long, these repetitive scenes of largely the same things: artist at a canvas, subject sitting in a chair and staring. Tucci attempts to liven things up with tensions between Roberto and his wife, Annette (Sylvie Testud), and boisterous interludes with Caroline the whore.
With a few exceptions, almost the entire film takes place in Roberto Giacometti's studio. It's all very drab, nothing but varying shades of grey. About the only thing really worth an extended gaze is Armie Hammer's handsomeness. And all he ever does is sit, sometimes get up to stretch. Chat a bit. This movie could have used a little more crackle in its dialogue. There are hints of potential there occasionally, but it never ultimately proves fruitful.
I suppose I should clarify. It's true, I wasn't quite completely bored by this movie -- just almost. But you will be.