In a character study directed with wry wit by Stanley Tucci, Geoffrey Rush plays Alberto Giacometti and Armie Hammer plays James Lord, his young American biographer who endured endless sittings in hope of a portrait.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
“Stanley Tucci has created a very amusing, astringent chamber piece of a movie, performed with sympathy and wit by Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer. It is based on the true story of how Alberto Giacometti invited the young American critic and influential admirer James Lord to sit for him in Paris in 1964; the resulting comedy is written for the screen by Tucci and based on Lord’s own memoir of the event.
Having airily promised that the portrait sitting would last a few hours at the most, making no difference to Lord’s imminent return flight to New York, Giacometti announces he needs a few more days and then a few days more, and all the while declaiming his agony of self-doubt at the easel, repeatedly overpainting near-complete work he angrily decides is mediocre – and assuring Lord grimly that art can never be finished... Lord has to figure out a way of persuading Giacometti to stop painting. A strange bond develops between the men, something between friendship and duel...
It’s a highly entertaining portrait of the two men, and Tucci’s own directorial brush strokes are bold and invigorating.”— Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“Refreshingly free of the ‘tortured genius’ clichés that can so often characterize biopics of artists, and bouncily, unapologetically fond of its subjects, Tucci’s movie is not a film of grand ambition or world-changing stakes. Instead it’s a charming, modest glimpse into a rarefied world that, lit with so much humble affection for its characters, manages to make it seem not so rarefied after all.”— Jessica Kiang, The Playlist