Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) was a Swiss sculptor raised in a family where art was the central focus of life. He created his first painting when he was 12 and his first sculpture at 13. Giacometti commented on his early art: "It all came so easily, it was paradise."
In Final Portrait, directed by Stanley Tucci, we encounter the great artist at a point in his life when nothing comes easy any more. The film is based on the 1965 memoir A Giacometti Portrait by James Lord.
While on a brief visit to Paris, this American writer with a keen interest in art was casually asked by Giacometti if he would sit for him.
The famous artist (Geoffrey Rush) assures Lord (Armie Hammer) that it would take him two or three hours or an afternoon at most to do the painting of him. After sitting according to Giacometti's instructions, he is shocked when the artist declares "you have the head of a brute, you look like a real thug. If I could paint you as I see you and a policeman saw the picture, he'd arrest you immediately."
Days go by as the painter keeps modifying his portrait. Meanwhile, Lord taken aback by Gicometti's cruel treatment of his wife Annette (Sylvie Testud), his cavorting with a garish prostitute (Clemence Poesy), and his frequent temper tantrums. Frustrated by the artist's struggles to complete his portrait, Lord turns to Diego Giacometti (Tony Shalhoub), his brother and collaborator who hits the nail on the head by stating: "He can only be happy when he's desperate and uncomfortable."
Stanley Tucci's movies always give us something profound and tangible to take home. It is this insight into the creative process that holds the key to "Final Portrait."