By Jan Hamilton
In a slow-moving, but satisfying film, Armie Hammer plays James Lord, an American who visits Paris in 1964. He is friends with artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) and agrees to sit for a portrait, although due to leave for the States within days. Alberto has told him the painting will only take a few hours, so all seems well. Day one goes okay, but the artist is not quite finished and asks him to return for one more sitting. James re-schedules his flight and returns the next day. Two days turn into three, four, and five. Alberto never seems quite satisfied and scribbles out the painting to start over again.
The place Alberto lives and paints appears slum-like. His studio and home are large chaotic spaces where the film’s audience gets glimpses of the artist’s home life. His still-attractive wife Annette (Sylvie Testud) struggles to gain Alberto’s affections, while beautiful Caroline (Clemence Poesy), a youngish prostitute, sleeps in the master bedroom with Alberto most nights. One can easily imagine how Annette feels about that and she even cannot hide what the situation is doing to her. So, why does James keep returning each day, even though his responsibilities at home are pressing him to return? Is it the vanity of wanting his face to be enshrined by a great artist, or that he respects the man that he must go along with his quirks?
This is a film in which not a lot happens, but the insight into the time and the rich characters’ lives makes it worth the trip. Geoffrey Rush disappears into his role, the excellent Tony Shalhoub plays his brother and the very talented Stanley Tucci directs. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but a delight for some.
Director: Stanley Tucci
Executive Producer: Deepak Nayar,
Fred Hogge and Ted Blumberg
Producer: Gail Egan, Nik Bower
and Ilann Girard
Screenwriter: Stanley Tucci
Cinematographer: Danny Cohen
Editor: Camilla Toniolo
Production Designer: James Merifield
Music: Evan Lurie
Principal Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer,
Clémence Poésy, Tony Shalhoub, Sylvie Testud