Director Stanley Tucci had everything he needed to make a compelling film about obsession and the flimsy line that separates artistic genius from madness. He also had great source material: James Lord’s pithy, fascinating memoir, in which the critic recounts being asked by artist Alberto Giacometti to sit for a portrait in a session that should have taken an afternoon but ended up stretching on for weeks.
Tucci also lined up a great cast, including Geoffrey Rush in all his sputtery glory as the irritable and indulgent Giacometti and, as Lord, that glorious hunk of man-meat Armie Hammer. Throw in a subplot involving Giacometti’s troubling relationship with a prostitute (Clémence Poésy), some magnificently dour set design, and a Parisian setting, and Final Portrait could’ve been Oscar catnip.
Instead, the whole affair is as stale as a week-old baguette. Tucci’s serviceable direction and seasick-inducing handheld camera work fail to match the dynamism of its subject’s art, and nowhere is there any sense of why viewers should give a shit about this prolonged portrait session, other than to marvel at a supposedly tortured genius as he chain-smokes and shouts at his canvas.