A rare event it is to see a film directed by Stanley Tucci, an actor I've long liked (he does 'camp' so well!). Sad that the result turned out to be this rather one-dimensional, over-prolonged tale which, despite its crisp 90 minutes' length, managed to outstay its welcome.
It tells a story of Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush - almost unrecognisable with his rumpled, curly hair) in his final days attempting to complete a sitting portrait of James Lord (Armie Hammer), an American writer and art dilettante.
The screen caption tells us it's Paris 1964. As though that isn't sufficient to explain where we are we're serenaded by - guess what! - an accordian. (Good grief! Aren't we passed that cliche yet? Why not also have a moustachio-ed guy cycling along in a beret and horizontally-striped tee-shirt with a string of onions round his neck? - and with La Tour Eiffel in the background!)
Many of us will be familiar with pictures of Giacometti's sculptures of grotesquely(?) elongated figurines, perhaps less so with his paintings and portraits.
He offers to paint a seated portrait of Lord, to which the latter is most pleased to sit for him, especially as he's told it won't take long at all, and he's due to return to New York imminently. One sitting expands to two, to three, several days.......more than two weeks. Lord is getting increasingly exasperated especially as he repeatedly has to keep re-booking his flight home - and he can hardly contain himself when, after well over a week of sittings, the artist in one of his fits of pique, paints over his work done so far and announces that he must start again.
The dishevelled studio where the painting is done has an in-and-out traffic of a number of curious characters, some interesting, some irritating, but they just seemed to perform the function of padding out what would otherwise have been a slender story. If they were designed to hold the audience's attention, it only worked feebly.
The film is shot in very muted colours, which rather suits the artist's work - many of which were left in an uncompleted state as he was never satisfied with his 'accomplishments'.
Tucci himself, to his credit, never appears in front of the camera. The film was actually mostly shot in London for reasons of cost, though it did, for the most part, look convincingly like its Parisienne setting. (Was that supposed to be Pere LaChaise? I used to know that Paris cemetery pretty well because of my searching out the many notables buried there. The scenes in this film looked more like Highgate cemetery to me.)
I believe that Stanley Tucci has wanted to make this film for some years, declaring his own passion for the artist's work. It's disappointing that even though it's another brilliant performance from Rush, with a lacklustre script to fight against, any passion that Tucci does have doesn't readily show on screen................5.
3 hours ago