There is much to be expected from a film directed by Stanley Tucci, and even more so when the lineup includes the likes of Armie Hammer and Geoffrey Rush.
Centered around the camaraderie between Swiss painter Alberto Giacometti (Rush) and American writer James Lord (Hammer), Tucci presents a story of friendship, life post-war, and the realities of artistry.
Lord, on a short visit to Paris, is asked by Giacometti to sit for a painting. Assuring him the process will take merely an afternoon, Lord agrees, taking on the role of the painter and sculptor’s latest victim, as Giacometti ‘s longstanding mistress (Sylvie Testud) refers to it. The process ends up taking weeks, and in between rearranging flight reservations and sitting square-jawed while Giacometti hits stop and go on the painting, Lord is allowed a glimpse of his painter’s inner workings.
The imagery painted by Tucci would not have the same impact without the pair. Appropriately, the relationship felt stiff, and for Lord, uncomfortable. Giacometti’s actions, random ticks of anger and an ostentatious affair, often made those around him shift in their seats. While the film previewed only a glimpse of Giacometti’s life, it captured the extremities of the artist’s behavior. His lack of confidence in his work, his nonchalant disposition towards death, and his disinterest in materialistic matters were all addressed. Rush composes himself in an unparalleled manner. The portrayal of the complicated relationship he had with his wife, often interrupted by his longtime muse and lover, a prostitute named Caroline (Clémence Poésy), is brilliantly scripted. Though the complexities of Giacometti could never be wrapped up in a film that spans less than a month of the man’s life, Rush delivers a spark of the artist’s idiosyncrasies.
Hammer’s last performance, Call Me By Your Name, was met with outstanding praise. Curious whether this performance would hold up to that standard, Hammer floats above sincere. At times, his character feels thin and vaguely hallow. In the larger picture though, this character is a canvas on which Giacometti’s traits are presented. The blanketed frustration and controlled temper juxtapose that of Giacometti’s, making the artist’s outburst seems even more indicative of his inner struggles.
Though the plotline was thin, this 10-year passion project of Tucci’s was exquisitely directed, due to the spot on acting and art direction.
The film was screened at the New York premiere which was hosted by Sony Pictures Classics, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Dominique Lévy and Brett Gorvy. The film is now playing.