Geoffrey Rush is no stranger to portraying great artists on the big screen. His breakout role came in Scott Hick’s Shine. His depiction of pianist David Helfgott was deservedly rewarded with an Oscar. His third Academy Award nomination was for his portrayal of the Marquis de Sade in Quills. Other notable historical beneficiaries of the Rush magic include Peter Sellars, Leon Troysky, Sir Francis Walsingham and Francis Hare. In Final Portrait, he takes on the role of famous Swiss sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti.
Whilst on a trip to Paris, American critic James Lord (Armie Hammer) has a chance encounter with his old friend Alberto Giacometti (Rush). Giacometti invites him to sit for a portrait at his studio. As it will only take a couple of days, James jumps at the chance. However, he soon discovers that art cannot be rushed. Days become weeks. Giacometti is continually distracted by his attraction to an overly-excitable prostitute (Clémence Poésy), whilst James becomes increasingly frustrated by the delays.
Final Portrait is an engaging character study and observation of an artist at work. Rush inhabits the character of a frustrated genius with his usual aplomb. His Giacometti is frustrated, spontaneous and riddled with self-doubt. Hammer plays his part stoically, torn between the desire to be captured and the irritability of a bubbling impatience. Director Stanley Tucci skilfully ensures that a film which could easily have become bogged-down in repetition, remains fresh and always evolving. Staging it beautifully.
Final Portrait is released on DVD by Vertigo Releasing on 8 January.